Helena Lyng Blak
1 week ago

Clear Defeat or Kindling to the Bonfire? How Will Trump’s Conviction Affect the Presidential Election?

Can Trump's conviction ignite his campaign, or will it seal his fate in the upcoming election?
Jul. 11, 2018. — Photo by Ale_Mi
Jul. 11, 2018. — Photo by Ale_Mi

Once upon a time, one might assume that a presidential candidate being convicted of a felony in the year of the election would doom their campaign. But once upon a time, Americans attacking their own Congress and not accepting election results, too, would have seemed unfathomable. Because once upon a time, the world had not yet seen the alt-right political movement spearheaded by one Donald Trump. 

On Thursday, May 30, 2024, the former president was found guilty by a New York jury on all 34 counts of falsifying business records to sway the 2016 presidential election in the so-called ‘Hush Money’ case.

The criminal trial, the first ever against a former US president, had been going for almost seven weeks, with the prosecution arguing that Trump had falsified business records to cover up his reimbursement of his lawyer, Michael Cohen. 

Cohen had, on Trump's behalf, the prosecution argued, paid ‘hush money’ to several people, including adult film actress Stormy Daniels, in order to suppress negative stories about the then-candidate leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

And now the jury has found Trump guilty, and the question in many Americans' minds is: How will this affect the election?

First and foremost, it is worth noting that the conviction will not prevent Trump from running for president (whether or not he will be able to vote, however, is more up in the air).

But will it affect the voters’ opinion of the man?

"Trump is still standing strong in most polls—especially in the expected swing states and among undecided voters,” political analyst Mikkel Rosenvold says. On Friday, May 31, The Economist’s polls saw Trump with a 46% lead against Biden’s 44%.

He explains, “Biden and Harris remain a largely unpopular ticket, and Trump still has the advantage of being able to pick a new running mate, which presents him with an opportunity to gain even more in strategic demographics."

But ultimately, Rosenvold does not expect the conviction will benefit Trump outright. 

"For Trump, this is obviously a very clear defeat and everything the Biden-Harris campaign hoped for,” he says. 

“The impact on the general election is hard to predict. The Trump narrative that this is a Democratic attempt to bypass democracy isn't really catching on, but on the other hand the Trump supporters at least seem to think this is an unfair verdict and nothing that really tarnished the former President's reputation,” he explains, summarizing, 

“All in all, we should expect a small boost to Biden’s polling over the coming days—perhaps with a longer-lasting effect if Trump is indeed sentenced to house arrest or suspended incarceration."

Trump’s sentencing will be held on July 11. 

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