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AP-NORC poll: About half of US adults approve of Trump’s conviction, but views of him remain stable

Jun 12, 2024, 8:01 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — About half of U.S. adults approve of Donald Trump’s recent felony conviction, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey shows some potential vulnerabilities, along with some signs of resilience in his support, as Trump tries to become the first American with a felony record to win the presidency.

Less than five months before Election Day, the poll paints a picture of a nation with firmly entrenched opinions of the divisive former Republican president. Overall views of Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden remain unchanged since before the guilty verdict in Trump’s New York hush money trial.

But the findings also suggest that Trump’s conviction is one more weakness among disaffected Republicans. While most people in the United States have heard about the conviction, political independents are less likely to be paying attention and more likely to have a neutral opinion of Trump’s conviction, indicating that there may still be room for the campaigns to sway them.

Nancy Hauser, a 74-year-old independent from West Palm Beach, Florida, said she approves of Trump’s conviction based on the little she followed of the trial. The verdict, she said, suggests that Trump may be willing to engage in criminal activity if he were back in the White House.

“I feel if you’ve been convicted of a crime, especially a felony, a serious crime, how can you run a country?” she said.

But she also has concerns about Biden, especially his age and leadership on the economy and the war in Israel. Biden is 81, while Trump turns 78 on Friday.

“I’m not sure who I’m voting for,” Hauser said. “That’s the sad part.”

Overall, U.S. adults are more likely to approve of Trump’s conviction than they are to disapprove, according to a survey of 1,115 adults nationwide conducted over three days beginning a week after the verdict was delivered May 30, and before Biden’s son Hunter was convicted in a federal gun case on Tuesday.

About 3 in 10 somewhat or strongly disapprove of Trump’s conviction, and about 2 in 10 do not approve or disapprove. Perspectives were similar among registered voters, with about half saying the conviction was the right choice.

Republicans are less united on the verdict than are Democrats. Roughly 6 in 10 Republicans somewhat or strongly disapprove of the conviction, while 15% of Republican adults approve and about 2 in 10 Republicans neither approve nor disapprove. Among Democrats, by contrast, more than 8 in 10 somewhat or strongly approve.

About half of Americans say that the conviction was politically motivated, while a similar share think it was not. Nearly half of Republicans who have an unfavorable view of Trump do not see the conviction as politically motivated, compared with less than 1 in 10 Republicans who have a positive opinion of him.

Overall opinions of Trump barely budged.

About 6 in 10 U.S. adults have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, which is in line with findings from an AP-NORC poll conducted in February. Four in 10 have a favorable view of Trump, also largely unchanged since February.

The numbers are equally poor for Biden: 4 in 10 U.S. adults have a favorable view of the Democratic president, while about 6 in 10 have a negative one.

Ron Schwartz, a 59-year-old self-described moderate Republican who lives in Dallas, said that Trump was “probably guilty” of the alleged crimes, although Schwartz believes politics were a major factor in the case.

He said the charges should not have been felonies, a level of crime that blocks those convicted from owning guns or voting in many states. Still, Schwartz plans to vote for Trump, as he did in the past two presidential elections, despite having serious concerns about the former president’s character.

“I think he’s a disgusting human being,” Schwartz said. “But he has some good policies and good ideas.”

Independents are split on Trump overall: About 4 in 10 have a positive view, while a similar share have a negative view. A plurality — nearly half — did not express a strong opinion on the conviction, saying they did not approve or disapprove.

Cassi Carey, a 60-year-old independent who lives in suburban Milwaukee, said the conviction does not reflect well on Trump, although she acknowledges she was not paying close attention to the specifics.

“I think Trump is a terrible choice for our country because of his divisiveness,” Carey said. She also lamented the advanced age of Biden, who turns 82 in November.

“Someday in my lifetime, I want very much to be able to vote for a candidate and not against a candidate,” she said.

Overall, Americans are more likely to see Trump’s conviction as bad for the nation.

About 4 in 10 adults describe it as a bad thing for the country overall, while about one-third say it was a good thing and about 2 in 10 say it is neither. As for the U.S. democratic system, about 4 in 10 say the conviction is a good thing, with roughly the same share calling it a bad thing.

Trump continues to be overwhelmingly disliked by Democrats: 9 in 10 Democrats have an unfavorable view of him, with roughly 8 in 10 saying their opinion is “very unfavorable.”

Democrat Oscar Baza, a 29-year-old Mexican immigrant who lives in Los Angeles, said he approves of the Trump verdict, which is evidence of “the judicial process working as it should.”

“I just think it’s really worrisome that he’s on the ballot,” Baza said. “If you’ve been convicted of 34 counts of anything, you probably shouldn’t be leading anything, you should be going to therapy.”

___

The poll of 1,115 adults was conducted June 7-10, 2024, using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.

___

Sanders reported from Washington.

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AP-NORC poll: About half of US adults approve of Trump’s conviction, but views of him remain stable