Pundits might be dismissing Trump’s hush-money case, but voters aren’t

Yet another poll has found that, yes, voters would take a criminal conviction of Donald Trump—even in an adult film star hush-money case—seriously. Trump is accused of falsifying records to cover up payments to Stormy Daniels in advance of the 2016 election; the trial is set to begin April 15 in New York.

The Reuters/Ipsos survey released Monday found that 64% of registered voters believe the fraud charges brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg are at least “somewhat serious,” while 34% said the charges lacked seriousness. Voters taking the charges seriously included two-thirds of independents and roughly four in 10 Republican respondents.

But ever since the outlines of Trump’s four criminal cases took shape last year, legal analysts and some Democrats have viewed the New York hush-money case as “the runt of the litter.” The conventional wisdom became that a conviction in New York would deal a lesser blow to Trump’s presidential prospects than the election interference cases. 

But the Reuters survey buttresses the results of a Politico Magazine/Ipsos poll last month finding that nearly a third of Americans would be less likely to support Trump for president if he were convicted in the hush-money case. 

In New York, Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records and committing fraud. This week’s Reuters survey showed that nearly two-thirds of independents found it believable that Trump took those actions, as did nearly one-third of Republicans.

It remains true that voters think the pending election fraud cases are more grievous, with roughly 74% of poll respondents viewing those cases as serious. A majority of voters would also like to see justice run its course before Election Day, with some 60% saying Trump’s criminal trials should be conducted before Nov. 5.

Still, the findings suggest a criminal conviction of Trump in the hush-money case could have electoral consequences, especially when viewed in conjunction with the Politico Magazine poll. In that survey, 44% of voters said a criminal conviction in the hush-money case would have “no impact” on their vote. However, 36% of independents said a conviction would make them “less likely” to support Trump, along with 9% of Republicans who said the same.

Nearly six in 10 voters wanted to see Trump tried in the federal government’s Jan. 6 election interference case before Election Day—mirroring findings in the new Reuters poll.

Additionally, the Politico poll found 70% of Americans say presidents should not be criminally immune for the actions they take while in office.

As we suggested last month, taken together, the two polls contain the makings of a powerful case for holding Trump to account that could work to the Biden campaign’s advantage. That is particularly true if Trump is convicted in the hush-money case but manages to delay justice in the Jan. 6 election interference case until after the election.

Trump’s lose-lose situation on abortion somehow got worse this week after he released a video attempting to spin a position on the polarizing issue. What does this mean? Bad news for the Republican Party, already in disarray.

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