Donald Trump tries to court pivotal 2024 voters after guilty verdict


WASHINGTON − As former President Donald Trump resumes full-time campaigning after his conviction in his New York hush money case, a top target is a relatively small group of Americans who could have decisive influence in November: Moderate and non-partisan voters reluctant to support someone convicted of a felony.

It’s still early, just a week after a jury convicted Trump of falsifying business records to influence the 2016 election. But initial polls indicate the guilty verdict isn’t changing many minds. Trump’s conservative Republican base hasn’t left him, and the conviction certainly didn’t help the former president among his critics.

But surveys over the last week still suggest the unprecedented verdict may change enough minds to make the difference in close battleground states this fall.

Democrats and Republicans have both tried to use the trial to court moderate voters. Trump, who will campaign in Arizona and Nevada in the coming days, has touted his fundraising hauls in the wake of the verdict and predicted a voter backlash against the case.

“It’s possible that our numbers are better now than they were three weeks ago,” Trump said in an interview broadcast Wednesday on Newsmax.

Still, Democrats, looking at some of the same polls, said the only question is how much the conviction hurts Trump.

“Outside the MAGA base, we believe a majority of Americans do not want to vote for a convicted criminal obsessed with regaining power at any cost and seeking revenge for his own problems,” said James Singer, a spokesman for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.

But how do pivotal voters actually feel about Trump being found guilty on 34 criminal counts in New York? Here’s what you need to know.

Scouring the early polls

So far, the numbers don’t show much post-verdict change in a close Biden-Trump race − but even a small number could make a big difference in the swing states that will decide the Electoral College.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll published on Friday reported that “ten percent of Republican registered voters say they are less likely to vote” for Trump following his conviction. “Among independent registered voters,” the poll said, “25% said Trump’s conviction made them less likely to support him in November, compared to 18% who said they were more likely” to back Trump.

Overall, the Reuters/Ipsos poll gave Biden a 41%-39% lead, well within the margin of error for the survey.

A HarrisX poll following the Thursday verdict said undecided voters are “still splitting 50/50 for Biden and Trump despite saying that they think Trump is guilty.”

A 538/ABC News analysis also reported that “the verdict also doesn’t seem to have changed many people’s minds about the case.” It added, however, that “the verdict has made a small but significant share of potential Trump supporters less likely to vote for him.”

That’s not all. The New York Times reported Thursday that it contacted 2,000 voters who participated in an earlier poll it conducted with Siena College, and Biden made small gains after Trump’s conviction. The outlet found that the group of voters backed Trump by three points when they were interviewed in April and May, but that dropped to one point this week.

Even a small number could make the difference in seven key battleground states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and North Carolina. As the Pew Research Center reports, Biden won Pennsylvania in 2020 by 1.2 percentage points and Wisconsin by six-tenths of a percentage point.

Trump returns to the trail full-time

Arizona and Nevada are on Trump’s end-of-the week schedule as he resumes full-time campaigning. Those stops will mark his first extended campaign trip since the jury’s verdict last week.

On Thursday, the former president headlines a town hall in north Phoenix hosted by Turning Point Action, an Arizona-based conservative group. Trump also has a series of fundraisers in California later this week, with stops scheduled for San Francisco, Beverly Hills and Newport Beach.

The trip is capped Sunday with Trump’s first post-verdict rally in Las Vegas.

The former president is expected to return to a familiar tactic as he speaks to voters: Trying to appeal to supporters by expanding his long-standing argument that the hush money trial was unfair.

Trump has long said without evidence that judges and prosecutors are using his four sets of criminal charges to target his reelection campaign. It’s a claim the former president made in the hours and days both before and after his guilty verdict.

But it’s not clear whether that’s motiving pivotal independent voters who could decide the 2024 election.

Republicans try to mobilize undecided voters

Trump isn’t only trying to woo undecided voters concerned about the hush money case with campaign stops. They’re also the targets of a new GOP program that emphasizes early voting, including mail-in voting.

The Trump campaign and an organization called Trump Force 47 − part of the Republican National Committee – announced what they called “Swamp The Vote USA,” with an emphasis on early voting across the country.

“Whether you vote absentee, by mail, early in-person or on election day, we are going to protect the vote,” Trump said in a statement announcing the program.

It’s a pivot from Trump’s previous presidential campaigns. Republicans developed the early voting plan despite Trump’s frequent calls for a return to single-day voting with paper ballots.

The former president and his aides have for years criticized mail-in voting in particular, including launching RNC-backed lawsuits in several states to try and restrict the practice in this year’s election.

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