Poll: Trump risks losing more than half of swing-state voters if found guilty

Former US President Donald Trump during a campaign event at Big League Dreams Las Vegas in Las Vegas on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. MUST CREDIT: Ian Maule/Bloomberg

January 31, 2024 (Bloomberg) — More than half of swing-state voters wouldn’t vote for Donald Trump if he were convicted of a crime, according to a new Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll, a warning sign for the Republican frontrunner who continues to lead President Joe Biden in key states.The poll found that 53% of voters in the seven closely watched battleground states would be unwilling to vote for Trump in the general election if he were found guilty of a crime, a figure that grows to 55% if he’s sentenced to prison. Trump’s 91 criminal charges in four separate indictments and related court appearances have so far fueled his standing in the Republican primary field and campaign fundraising efforts, but the data released Wednesday indicates there’s a limit to how much his legal battles will help him politically.

Voters’ reluctance to support a convicted Trump is one of the few dark spots for the former president in the poll that otherwise shows him growing his margin over Biden in a head-to-head contest. Trump leads Biden by an average of 6 percentage points in the seven critical swing states that will likely decide the 2024 presidential election, according to the poll.

The former president romped to victory in the first two Republican primary contests and is poised to sew up his party’s nomination in the coming weeks. Trump has used the criminal charges to paint himself as a victim of prosecutors, who he accuses of political bias. That has galvanized the party’s base around his candidacy and drew support away from his challengers. Ron DeSantis has already dropped out of the race and Nikki Haley has pledged to continue running through early March after losing to Trump in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Despite Republicans rallying around Trump after four indictments, the poll suggests that a conviction and prison sentence could change the equation for some voters. Nearly one in four – 23% – of swing-state Republicans say they are unwilling to support him if convicted.

Morning Consult Vice President Caroline Bye said a conviction shrinks Trump’s pool of support. He loses one out of every five of his 2020 voters if he’s found guilty, she said.

“The base is evolving and the base is changing,” she said. “But there are certainly loyal Trump voters who will continue to vote for Trump.”

Voters were split over whether states should be able to remove Trump’s name from the ballot for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Forty-five percent said states shouldn’t have the right to remove him, while 21% said states should be able to rule him ineligible only if he is criminally convicted of insurrection-related charges. The remaining respondents said states should be able to delete his name, regardless of any conviction.

A conviction could also tip the balance among the so-called “double haters” – voters who have an unfavorable opinion of both Biden and Trump – with 79% of those voters saying they would be unwilling to vote for Trump if he were found guilty.

The poll was conducted Jan. 16 to 22, after the Iowa caucuses and before the New Hampshire primary. It also came before an $83.3 million civil damages award for defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll, who had earlier won a separate lawsuit against him for sexually assaulting her in 1996. It polled voters in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Nevada. Bloomberg News and Morning Consult are conducting polls monthly in the run-up to the November presidential election.

Trump faces four different criminal trials this year, though his lawyers are trying to get the cases delayed until after the election or dismissed.

Two cases – one over Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and another dealing with alleged hush money payments to a porn star – are scheduled to go to trial in March and could reach verdicts before the November presidential election, though delays could mean voters will go to the polls before any of the cases have been decided. The timing of the other two, over Trump’s handling of classified documents and alleged interference in the 2020 Georgia election results, are uncertain.

He’s awaiting an appeals court ruling on whether he is immune from criminal liability for actions during his tenure as president. That could result in the dismissal of two cases stemming from his attempts to subvert the 2020 election. The immunity ruling would not apply to the other two criminal cases from actions before and after he was president.

The Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll surveyed 4,956 registered voters in seven swing states: 800 registered voters in Arizona, 798 in Georgia, 703 in Michigan, 457 in Nevada, 706 in North Carolina, 795 in Pennsylvania and 697 in Wisconsin. The surveys were conducted online from Jan. 16 to 22 and the aggregated data across the seven swing states were weighted to approximate a target sample of swing state registered voters based on gender, age, race/ethnicity, marital status, home ownership, 2020 presidential vote and state. State-level data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters in the respective state based on gender, age, race/ethnicity, marital status, home ownership, and 2020 presidential vote. The margin of error is plus or minus 1 percentage point across the seven states; 3 percentage points in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania; 4 percentage points in Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, and 5 percentage points in Nevada.



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