In addition to election denial, a key tenet of the MAGA movement is the denial that Donald Trump is a scofflaw, though he has a long history of criminal and civil courtroom encounters and is currently facing 91 felony charges. In Trump World, the 45th president is the victim of a vast conspiracy of persecution driven by Democratic or Democratic-appointed judges, prosecutors, and even juries, all seeking to prevent him from his destined return to the White House. President Joe Biden (or maybe the “radical left” advisers whispering in his ear) is supposedly orchestrating all the investigations and indictments against Trump in an effort to keep himself in power.
Those who fear a second Trump administration understandably hope that when actual trials occur, and particularly if convictions follow, the underlying reality of Trump’s misconduct will finally break through the rhetoric and hype treating the former president as a sort of suffering savior.
But in the details of the New York Times–Siena College poll of battleground states that provided so much bad news for Democrats this week were a couple of data points that make you wonder if a convicted Trump will be much weaker than a merely indicted Trump.
Asked whether they believed Trump has or has not “committed serious federal crimes,” 54 percent of poll respondents replied that he had. But 19 percent of them confirmed they’d still vote for this criminal ex-president in 2024. Along the same vein, 13 percent of those who believe Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results “threatened American democracy” still plan to vote for him next year.
There’s a bit of small comfort to law-abiders in the fact that 6 percent of 2024 Trump supporters said they’d probably vote for someone else if he is convicted and sentenced to prison. That’s perhaps enough to make a big difference in a really close election, but the more disturbing fact is how many voters either just don’t care about Trump’s criminality or find it less important than ejecting Biden from office.
The fact that a significant share of the electorate can’t decide whether Trump belongs in the big house or the White House is not a good sign for our civic health. It does help explain why this profoundly unpopular man remains even money for a second term as president.
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