Dem 51
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GOP 49
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This Week's Polls: Voters' Reaction to Verdict Is Surprisingly Swift

It's been a week since Donald Trump became a felon, and there are a few interesting polls released in the past couple of days that are worth mentioning.

First up is a poll that will gladden Trump's heart. YouGov, which foresaw which way the winds were blowing, began asking respondents last year whether a felon should be allowed to be president. As recently as April, 58% of Republican voters said that felons should be barred from serving as compared to 17% who said a felony conviction should not be disqualifying. In the latest YouGov poll, released yesterday, only 23% of Republican voters said a felony should be disqualifying versus 58% who said it should not be. In other words, on this question, Republican voters have had a net shift of 76 points (from +41 to -35).

This is not terribly surprising, and it's also not terribly meaningful. Until May, most Republicans who were answering this question thought they were being asked about either Hillary Clinton or about the Biden family. Now that they know that it's about Trump, their views have changed. And this is not mere supposition. YouGov, again foreseeing how the winds would blow, has also been asking "Do you think it is or is not a crime for a candidate for elected office to pay someone to remain silent about an issue that may affect the outcome of an election?" In March of 2023, when most Republican respondents did not realize who this question was about, 73% of them said it's a crime. A month later, by which time Trump had been indicted by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, only 40% said it's a crime. Anyhow, the point here is that Trump has his loyal followers, and they are more than willing to change their definitions of what is a crime, and what is criminal, to exclude him. These people were already voting for him, and they will still be voting for him, so nothing has changed with them.

On the other hand, with the electorate as a whole, the early returns are a little less hopeful for Trump. Our second poll today is the latest from Emerson. According to their numbers, 40% of respondents think Trump should be sent to prison, 25% said he should receive probation, 15% said he should pay a fine and 20% were unsure. Emerson did not break down the numbers by party affiliation, and so we're not entirely sure where the Republicans we describe in the previous paragraph are being reflected in this poll. Did they choose "not sure" because "he should receive no punishment" was not an option? Or did they choose "probation" because they know a punishment is coming (even if they think it unfair), and they want the least onerous option possible? In any case, 80% of people supported some form of punishment and half of those supported prison. Those aren't the kinds of numbers Trump would get if his "this prosecution was a sham" narrative was taking hold.

And finally, there is the latest from The New York Times/Siena. We've had questions about their numbers this cycle, but the latest poll was effectively a tracking poll, which is a different kettle of fish. In short, they did a poll before the Trump trial, and then they contacted the exact same people after the trial. And across the two polls, Trump's support dropped by 2%. The decline was most substantial among young, nonwhite and less engaged Democratic-leaning voters.

At very least, it does not appear that Trump will get a bounce from his conviction, unless you count "his fanatical supporters became a bit more so" as a bounce. And the preliminary indications are that he'll take a hit. It is entirely possible that the effect could dissipate entirely, once the felony convictions aren't so fresh in the mind. And it's also possible that as "Trump as felon" really takes hold, the effect could increase a bit. Our guess, when the verdict was rendered, was that the long-term cost to Trump would be 2%-4% of the vote, which is a BIG deal in a close election. Thus far, we have no reason to reconsider that guess.

One last thing. It is easy enough to find a bushel of opinion pieces that say, in effect "[Scandal X] did not hurt Trump, so why should a felony conviction hurt him?" We would propose that such a formulation is somewhat missing the point. It is true that attacking Gold Star families, mocking a handicapped reporter, tacitly endorsing white supremacists, "grab 'em by the pu**y," getting impeached, participating in 1/6, etc. did not cause a catastrophic collapse in Trump's support. However, you can absolutely find a small segment of the electorate for which the Gold Star stuff was a bridge too far. And you can find a small segment of the electorate for which "grab 'em by the pu**y" was a bridge too far. And you can find a small segment of the electorate for which 1/6 was a bridge too far. And those small segments start to add up. What we're saying here is that the guilty verdict isn't going to slay the Trump dragon all by itself, any more than his other scandals have done. But it very well could be a part of a death by 1,000 cuts. (Z)

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