This Is the One Issue That Unites Americans on Trump Indictments
Donald Trump is the most polarizing personality in American politics. But regarding Trump’s two indictments, there is room for agreement by a solid majority of Americans on some of the issues relating to the former president’s legal troubles.
First, roughly half the country thinks Trump is guilty of both crimes. The first case alleges that Trump willfully retained sensitive government documents after leaving office and obstructed a subsequent federal investigation. Forty-nine percent of Americans responding to a Politico poll— including 25% of Republicans — said that they believe Trump is guilty.
And 48% of Americans — including 24% of Republicans — believe that Trump is guilty in the Stormy Daniels Hush money case, which alleges Trump falsified business records in connection with payments to the porn star.
Other issues clearly have a partisan disposition.
What should happen to Trump if he gets convicted? Forty three percent said he should go to prison, but most were willing to spare him jail time. Nearly a quarter of respondents said that Trump should incur no punishment at all (22 percent), while 18 percent said he should receive probation and another 17 percent said he should face only a financial penalty.
The results were roughly similar when respondents were asked what the punishment should be if Trump is convicted in Manhattan. Most respondents said that Trump should not go to prison and that he should instead receive either no term of imprisonment, probation, or a financial penalty only (21 percent, 17 percent and 22 percent, respectively).
Seventy-three percent of Democrats want to see Trump perp-walked in an orange jumpsuit straight to prison. Just 16% of Republicans want the former president to go to prison. And 18% of the public want Trump to receive probation, 17% say Trump should only be assessed a financial penalty, and 22% believe Trump should receive no punishment.
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But where there is strong agreement in the poll is on the question of timing for the trials.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents (62 percent) said that the trial in the pending federal prosecution should take place before the presidential election next November — a figure that includes nearly half of Republican respondents (46 percent). A lower number, but a still-solid majority, said that the trial should take place before the Republican primaries begin early next year (57 percent of all respondents, including 42 percent of Republican respondents).
The findings could bolster the position of federal prosecutors, who have been pushing for a trial date as early as this December. Trump is expected to try to drag out the proceedings for as long as possible, particularly because he would likely be able to shut the prosecution down if reelected. But the federal statute that governs the setting of trial dates requires judges to account for not only the defendant’s interest but “the best interest of the public” as well.
It’s surprising that 46% of Republicans want the trial to go forward before the primaries since a conviction would almost certainly doom Trump’s chances, according to this poll.
Among the broader public, a conviction in either case would be damaging to Trump’s electoral chances. An identical number — 41 percent of all respondents — said that a conviction in either the federal case or the Manhattan DA’s case would make them less likely to support the former president. Despite all the commentary that he’s Teflon Don, it’s clear that some of his missteps can cost him.
The key to this issue is that 28% of Republicans and 31% of independents would be less likely to vote for Trump if he were convicted. At the very least, that makes Trump’s campaign an uphill climb against Biden in 2024.