Pollster says 'surprised' 37 percent of Republicans don't oppose Trump pardoning ex-associates

Pollster Emily Ekins said in an interview that aired Tuesday on "What America's Thinking" that she was shocked to see that 37 percent Republicans had said in a new Hill-HarrisX poll that they were not opposed to the idea of President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE pardoning his former associates.

Elkins added that she did not expect the number of Republicans to be that high. 

"I'm just surprised to see so many Republicans okay with unethical behavior because it's their tribe that would be engaged in it," Ekins, polling director at the Cato Institute, told Hill.TV's Jamal Simmons. 

"About 37 percent of Republicans said that they would find it acceptable for Trump to pardon people who have committed crimes that have worked on his campaign," she said. "Still, majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents all think that that's unacceptable, but I was shocked that it was that high."

The new survey, released on Tuesday, found that 63 percent of Republicans were against the idea of Trump pardoning his former associates, while 76 percent of Independents and 87 percent of Democrats said the same. 

"A lot of political science studies have shown using experiments that people can very tribal about their partisan identity," she said.

"These experiments have shown that Democrats and Republicans will switch sides on big issues, major issues like health care and welfare when they're told that their party's leader, or the president that is apart of their party, supports the other side," she also said.

Democrats have raised concerns that Trump will pardon his former campaign manager Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortNew York City lawmakers vote to close Rikers Island jail by 2026 Perry says Trump directed him to discuss Ukraine with Giuliani: report Cuomo signs measure allowing New York to press charges despite presidential pardon MORE, who has been convicted of a slew of financial crimes in special counsel Robert Muelle's investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election

Trump said last week he has not thought about a pardon for Manafort, but he also did not rule out the possibility.

— Julia Manchester