Trump’s Conviction Uncharted Territory for American Politics

As Reporting by BBC, Donald Trump has become the first former or serving US president to be found guilty of a crime, making him also the first presumptive major-party nominee to be a convicted felon.

As he plans his appeal in the hush-money case and awaits sentencing on July 11, which could include prison time and a hefty fine, the political ramifications are already being considered.

This unprecedented situation has left experts struggling to find historical parallels. Jeffrey Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, noted, “We often look to history to find some kind of hint of what’s going to happen. But there is nothing in the record that comes even close to this.”

Despite his conviction, Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination earlier this year and is set to be officially nominated at the party’s convention shortly after his sentencing. Polls indicate a close race between Trump and President Joe Biden, with Trump holding a slight lead in several key swing states. However, this conviction could potentially alter the political landscape.

Exit polls from the Republican primaries this winter revealed that significant numbers of voters would reconsider their support for Trump if he were convicted of a felony. An April survey by Ipsos and ABC News indicated that 16% of Trump supporters would rethink their backing in such a scenario. Now, voters must confront a real conviction rather than a hypothetical one. From Yahoo News

“The real verdict is going to be [on] 5 November, by the people,” Trump stated after leaving the courtroom.

Doug Schoen, a pollster who has worked with both Democratic and independent politicians, suggests that by November, voters may be more focused on issues like inflation, the southern border, and international competition than on Trump’s eight-year-old hush-money case.

Yet, even a minor drop in support could be critical in a tightly contested election. Ariel Hill-Davis of Republican Women for Progress believes the conviction will harm Trump’s candidacy, especially among younger, college-educated, and suburban voters who have already been wary of his leadership style.

Leading Republicans quickly rallied around Trump, with House Speaker Mike Johnson calling the conviction “a purely political exercise, not a legal one.”

Despite numerous predictions of Trump’s political downfall over the past eight years, his resilience has been remarkable. His 2016 campaign survived multiple scandals, and his party remained largely loyal through two impeachments and the chaotic end of his presidency, including the Capitol riot.

Trump’s ability to maintain political support despite scandals is “truly astounding,” says Engel. This conviction may be different, particularly if Trump’s appeals fail and he faces prison time. However, it could also be another obstacle that he overcomes. told by ABC News

Allan Lichtman, a political science professor known for his accurate presidential predictions, acknowledges that Trump’s conviction could be the “cataclysmic and unprecedented” event that changes the course of history. While history will record this as an extraordinary event, the ultimate impact will be decided by voters in November. If Trump loses, his conviction is likely to be seen as a significant factor.