What does this mean for his presidential run?

Twelve jurors made history on Thursday by finding former President Donald Trump guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records, making him the first American president ever to be convicted of a crime.

It’s less clear what this moment could mean for the November election, partly because this has never happened before.

Trump’s lawyers plan to file an appeal in the hush money case as Trump awaits sentencing on July 11, which could include prison time and a fine. Meanwhile, any political fallout from a race that is in a statistical deadlock could be significant.

Polls indicate the conviction could reduce some support for Trump, who can still run as a convicted felon, in his November rematch with President Joe Biden.

A March Politico-Ipsos poll found that a conviction could cost Trump more than a third of independent citizens. A February NBC News poll found that a conviction in the New York trial could cause a massive shift among voters aged 18 to 34 from Trump to Biden. An ABC News/Ipsos poll from delayed April found that 20% of Trump supporters surveyed “would either reconsider their support (16%) or withdraw it (4%)” if convicted.

Still, these polls were based on a theoretical event. So far, none of the four criminal cases against Trump have made a difference in the tight race. That’s partly because polls also show few voters pay attention.

In a recent YouGov/Yahoo News poll, just 16% of respondents said they were “following the Manhattan trial very closely,” and one-third said they had moderate interest in its progress. More Americans in this survey said the process made them feel “bored” or “angry” rather than interested.

This is quite surprising considering the salacious subject matter – a former adult film star details an alleged sexual encounter with a presidential candidate. But Trump has a long history of outrageous behavior, and if the facts in this case didn’t motivate voters en masse, neither should a guilty verdict.

“I think even his most ardent supporters, given who he is, can believe anything they say he has done,” GOP consultant Chris Nicholas said before the verdict.

“Being a criminal does not prevent you from running for president,” said Democratic political consultant Mustafa Rashed. “He will run a grievance campaign and compete fiercely in Pennsylvania.”

However, extensive coverage of the July 11 conviction and hearing cannot be avoided. And the conviction itself – guilty on all counts – makes it easier for Democrats and the Biden campaign to label Trump as unfit for office. Biden’s campaign has already begun calling Trump a “convicted felon” in a statement following the verdict.

“Donald Trump always wrongly believed he would never face consequences for breaking the law for his own gain,” Biden-Harris 2024 communications director Michael Tyler said Thursday. “But today’s verdict does not change the fact that the American people face a simple reality. There’s still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box. Convicted or not, Trump will be the Republican presidential nominee.”

It is unlikely that Trump will run his campaign very differently than before – portraying the criminal cases against him as false and using them as a unifying call to his supporters. Within minutes of the verdict, Trump began raising funds for the sentence, describing himself as a “political prisoner.”

“It was a disgrace. It was a rigged trial conducted by a conflicted judge who was corrupt,” Trump said outside the courtroom after the verdict was announced. “The Biden administration did this in order to injure or injure an adversary, a political opponent. And I think it’s just a shame. And we will keep fighting. We will fight until the end and we will win, because our country has gone to hell.”

While there is no evidence that Biden had anything to do with the charges brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, many voters were moved by the narrative of political interference. A May Philadelphia Inquirer/New York Times/Siena College poll found that 44% of respondents believed Trump would receive a fair and impartial trial, with the majority of them being Biden supporters. Fifty-two percent of respondents, most of them Trump supporters, believed they would not receive a fair trial.

Both Democrats and some Republicans called on Americans to respect Thursday’s ruling.

“Regardless of the outcome, I urge all Americans to respect the verdict and the legal process,” former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, wrote on X. “At this dangerously divided moment in our history, all leaders – regardless of party – must not add fuel to the fire with more toxic partisanship. We must reaffirm what has made this nation great: the rule of law.”

One of Biden’s top surrogates, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware), similarly urged “all Americans, regardless of party affiliation, to accept and respect the outcome of this process.”

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