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About half of American adults approve of Trump’s conviction, but views of him remain stable

NEW YORK (AP) — About half of American adults approve of Donald Trump’s recent felony conviction, according to a poll by 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 criminal record to run for president.

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

But the findings also suggest that Trump’s beliefs remain a weakness among disaffected Republicans. Although most people in the United States have heard of the conviction, political independents are less likely to pay attention to it and more likely to have a neutral opinion of Trump’s conviction, indicating that there may still be room for the campaigns to to influence them.

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

“I think if you’re convicted of a crime, especially a misdemeanor, a serious crime, how can you run a country?” she said.

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But she also worries 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, American adults are more likely to approve than disapprove of Trump’s conviction, according to a survey of 1,115 adults nationwide, conducted over three days beginning a week after the verdict was handed down on May 30, and before Biden’s son Hunter was convicted in a federal gun case Tuesday.

About 3 in 10 somewhat or strongly disapprove of Trump’s conviction, and about 2 in 10 neither approve nor disapprove of the conviction. Perspectives were similar among registered voters, with about half saying conviction was the right thing to do.

Republicans are less unanimous about the verdict than Democrats. About six-in-ten Republicans somewhat or strongly disapprove of the conviction, while 15% of Republican adults approve and about two-in-ten Republicans neither approve nor disapprove. Among Democrats, on the other hand, more than 8 in 10 somewhat or strongly agree.

About half of Americans say the conviction was politically motivated, while a similar share thinks it was not. Nearly half of Republicans who have an unfavorable opinion of Trump do not view the conviction as politically motivated, compared to fewer than 1 in 10 Republicans who have a favorable opinion of him.

General opinions about Trump hardly changed.

About six in 10 American adults have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, consistent with findings from an AP-NORC poll conducted in February. Four in ten have a positive view of Trump, also largely unchanged since February.

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The numbers are equally bad for Biden: four in ten American adults have a positive image of the Democratic president, while about six in ten have a negative image.

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

He said the charges should not have been felonies, a level of crime that prevents convicts 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 serious concerns about the former president’s character.

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

Independents are generally divided on Trump, with about four in 10 having a positive opinion, while a similar share has a negative view. A majority – almost half – had no strong opinion about the conviction, saying they neither approved nor disapproved.

Cassi Carey, a 60-year-old independent who lives in a Milwaukee suburb, said the conviction does not reflect well on Trump, although she acknowledges she did not pay close attention to the details.

“I think Trump is a terrible choice for our country because of his divisiveness,” Carey said. She also lamented Biden’s old age, who will turn 82 in November.

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“One day in my life, I really want to be able to vote for a candidate and not against a candidate,” she said.

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

About four in 10 adults described it as a bad thing for the country as a whole, while about a third said it was a good thing and about two in 10 said it was neither. As for the American democratic system, about four in ten people say the conviction is a good thing, while about the same share call it a bad thing.

Trump still overwhelmingly dislikes Democrats: 9 in 10 Democrats view him unfavorably, while about 8 in 10 say their view is “very unfavorable.”

Democrat Oscar Baza, a 29-year-old Mexican immigrant living in Los Angeles, said he approves of Trump’s ruling, which is a testament to “the judicial process working as it should.”

“I think it’s really concerning that he’s on the ballot,” Baza said. “If you’re convicted of 34 charges, you probably shouldn’t suffer anything but go to therapy.”

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

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Sanders reported from Washington.

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