Trump's conviction likely won't change his GOP support: ANALYSIS

Prominent voices within the Republican Party are rallying around him.

May 31, 2024, 12:46 AM

The felony conviction of a former president would be extraordinary at any time but in the middle of a presidential election in which that former commander-in-chief is running, it is truly remarkable. What's even more remarkable is that it likely won't significantly change the kind of broad support he has within the Republican Party.

The party of "law and order" is undoubtedly moving toward nominating a convicted felon to be atop its presidential ticket. And prominent voices within the Republican Party are rallying around him.

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson called Thursday "a shameful day in American history." Sen. Marco Rubio, a potential contender for Trump's VP pick, called the verdict a "travesty that makes a mockery of our system of justice." Former HUD Secretary under Trump, Ben Carson, insisted the "judicial system has been weaponized to go after Presidents for political gain."

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press after leaving court during his hush money payment trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 16, 2024, in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images

And the evidence we have suggests that the masses of Trump supporters will stick by Trump, too. Before news of the verdict, the latest ABC News-Ipsos poll found that 80% of Trump's supporters said they'd continue to support Trump even if he was convicted of a felony in this case. Twenty percent said they'd either reconsider their support (16%) or withdraw it (4%).

While the aforementioned figures could fluctuate now that a felony conviction is a reality rather than a hypothetical, little has shaken the stranglehold Trump has on the Republican Party.

Conventional campaign wisdom would suggest that a candidate and campaign would do its best to avoid talking about a criminal conviction, but there is nothing conventional about the Trump campaign. Almost immediately after the verdict, the campaign began to fundraise off the ruling, a clear attempt to capitalize on the jurors' decision.

"I was just convicted in a RIGGED political Witch Hunt trial: I DID NOTHING WRONG!" read a fundraising email, which was sent out minutes after the former president left the courthouse.

The move is in line with the consistent strategy to frame Trump as unfairly treated and politically persecuted. It's the same kind of political martyrdom that has arguably been a boon to his campaign throughout the GOP primary and has fueled fundraising hauls for Trump's campaign and political action committees supporting him.

"This was a disgrace," Trump told reporters after the verdict. "This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt. It's a rigged trial, a disgrace."

Come November, though, it will be the votes of more than just Republicans that will determine if Trump reclaims the White House. This case adds an additional layer of uncertainty to a race that will be won and lost by slim margins.

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