Trump’s conviction: the aftermath

by A. Altieri D’Angelo

At any other time, a 34-count felony conviction of a political candidate would be a cause to end that person’s political campaign. But not Donald Trump-he claims the state is persecuting him. Ironically, the verdict has had a positive and potentially harmful effect on the former President’s campaign. (Trump’s supporters agree that he is a victim).

Trump has had a slow start in raising campaign funding. But in May, he raised $141M compared to Joe Biden, who came in at $85M; Trump basically eliminated Biden’s cash advantage. Trump’s campaign had $116.6 million in the bank at the end of May, compared to $91.6 million for Biden. The day after he was convicted, Trump received a $50M contribution from Billionaire Timothy Mellon.

The former President has managed to convince 4 in 10 voters that Joe Biden was behind his conviction. 80% of Republicans and 43% of all voters (including the 80%) believe the Department of Justice and President Biden directed the Manhattan’s District Attorney, Alan Bragg’s, prosecution of Trump. It is déjà vu all over again! The same proportion of voters believed that the 2020 election was stolen.

Trump’s supporters will not accept that he was found guilty under New York law. Merritt Garland, Attorney General of the United States, has denied Trump’s claims. Even one of Trump’s lawyers, Joe Tacopina, who worked as a defense lawyer in the Manhattan case, has called the idea silly and ridiculous. He stated that the Department of Justice has nothing to do with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. But Trump’s base refuses, again, to accept facts. And they demonstrated their loyalty and belief in Trump by contributing millions of dollars to his campaign immediately after he was convicted. (There is no U.S. precedent for voters to ignore facts as they do in Trump’s case).

However, despite the unwavering support of Republicans, Trump may be losing some support among Independents. The conviction may also cause uncommitted Democrats to vote for President Biden even though they dislike his age and policies. Very recent polling suggests a slight shift in favor of Biden. If the change continues, this will be good news for Biden. One poll reported that thirty-two percent of independents said they’re less likely to support Trump after he was convicted in Manhattan last month. The Politico/Ipsos poll released last week found that 33% of voters said they’re less likely to support Trump, including 9% of Republicans.

(Hunter Biden (Joe Biden’s son) was convicted on June 11, 2024, on three felony gun charges. His trial and verdict did not affect Biden’s standing with voters. Most voters (apart from diehard Trump supporters) see Joe Biden as a suffering and loving father. Despite Republican efforts to link Hunter Biden’s legal troubles to President Biden, few are changing their votes.)

A recent Fox News poll showed that Biden had advanced 3 points over Trump. Biden was 1 point below Trump and is now 2 above. He is leading Trump for the first time since October. The reasons for the increase in favorable polling are Trump’s conviction, an improving economy, and Biden’s new aggressive immigration policy that has already reduced the number of undocumented people crossing into the U.S.

The Hunter Biden conviction has diminished the impact of Republican claims that Trump is being persecuted while Hunter is not. And Biden continues to emphasize abortion and healthcare, two issues where he leads Trump. Trump’s felony conviction will be a problem for his presidential campaign.

This trend toward Biden, if sustainable, will help the President win the popular vote but may not improve his electoral vote count. Biden still trails Trump in the battleground or toss-up states of Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Nebraska by 1-6 points. These states have a total of 117 electoral votes. Biden is projected to have 202 electoral votes and Trump 219. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.

Biden and the Democratic Party plan to highlight the fact that Trump is a convicted felon in news releases, public statements, and interviews. They also committed to a $50 million TV ad campaign in the battleground states. The ad makes the case to election viewers that “the election is between a convicted criminal, who’s only out for himself, and a president who is fighting for your family.”

It is fair to say this election is too close to call. The voting patterns will shift between now and November 5, 2024. But one thing is certain: Trump is a convicted felon unless the appeals process finds him innocent. Most voters will not ignore Trump’s conviction and will consider that they may be electing a convicted felon to be the next U.S. President. However, it remains to be seen if anti-Trump voters will come out in enough force to prevent his election.

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