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Trump Says Conviction Will Make Him More Popular. Polls Say Otherwise.

Poll after poll demonstrates that a criminal conviction between now and November makes Trump less popular.

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference at 40 Wall Street after a pre-trial hearing on March 25, 2024, in New York City.

Republican nominee for president Donald Trump claimed on Monday that he could become more popular with voters if he’s convicted of committing a crime.

Trump made the comments following a court hearing in which a New York state judge scheduled a trial date for the case involving his making hush-money payments to adult entertainers with whom he had extramarital affairs, and concealing the payments by falsifying business records for his company, the Trump Organization.

Immediately after the hearing, which Trump had attended in person, the former president denounced the action, falsely describing it (as he has charges and pre-trial actions in other cases) as “election interference” and as a “witch hunt” against him.

Trump was also asked by reporters whether he was concerned if a conviction against him could potentially cost him the election against President Joe Biden. Trump suggested that the opposite might hold true.

“Well, it could also make me more popular,” Trump explained, “because the people know it’s a scam.”

Polling tells a different story.

Surveys conducted at various points over the past year show that, should Trump receive a conviction in any of the four cases he’s currently facing, it would hurt his chances at reclaiming the White House for a second nonconsecutive term.

A Politico/Ipsos poll from late last summer, for example, found that 32 percent of voters overall would be less likely to back Trump if he’s convicted. A New York Times/Siena College poll in November examining voters in swing states found a similar outcome, noting that, while Trump was ahead of Biden at that time by 4 points, he would lose to Biden by 10 points in those states if he received a guilty verdict between then and Election Day.

Those more dated polls match up with recent data, too. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll published in February found that Biden and Trump were statistically tied among voters. However, when presented with the possibility that Trump could be convicted, Biden took the lead, by a margin of 51 percent to 45 percent.

Exit polling data also shows that Trump faces difficulties with Republican voters if he’s convicted between now and November. Among participants in Virginia’s Super Tuesday primary race, 37 percent of voters said they wouldn’t find Trump fit to be president if he’s convicted. Thirty-two percent of voters in North Carolina’s GOP primary said the same thing, and in South Carolina’s primary election exit polling, which took place in February, 32 percent said he wouldn’t be fit to serve if he’s convicted.

Trump’s attempts to delay the trials beyond Election Day (with hopes that he can win the election and have his charges dismissed), are also looked down upon by voters, and it’s possible that continued news reports about his efforts to delay the trials could hurt him in the polls as Election Day approaches.

According to a CNN/SSRS poll published in February that looked specifically at his federal election subversion trial, 48 percent of voters said it was “essential” that the trial conclude before November, with another 16 percent saying they would prefer a verdict before voting takes place. Only 11 percent believed that the trial should be delayed until after the election.

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