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Despite Court ‘Guilty’ Verdict, Trump Gains On Biden In Court Of Voter Opinion: I&I/TIPP Poll

Even after Trump's felony conviction, the intensity of his voter support remains greater than Biden's.

Former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a fist as he arrives back at Trump Tower after being convicted in his criminal trial in New York City, on May 30, 2024. Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images.

The stunning felony conviction of former President Donald Trump garnered headlines around the world and created sharp political arguments across the U.S. But did it affect the presidential race? The answer is yes. It seems to have actually helped Trump, the June I&I/TIPP Poll shows.

The poll was taken from Wednesday, May 29, through Friday, May 31. The verdict against Trump in New York state court was rendered on Thursday, May 30. So a significant share of the 1,675 registered voters who took the national online I&I/TIPP Poll actually knew that Trump had been found guilty of 34 felony counts.

So, did Trump’s guilty verdict change minds, weakening his support? On the contrary, it seems.

In the head-to-head poll between President Joe Biden and Trump, it’s now a statistical toss-up, 41% to 41%. But that’s an improvement for Trump from May, when he trailed Biden by 2 percentage points in that month’s I&I/TIPP poll (42% Biden to 40% Trump). The June poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points.

What about independents, the all-crucial swing vote in national elections? There, it’s not close, with Trump handily beating Biden.

Another question: What happens when the third party and independent candidates — independent lawyer and activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., former Harvard professor and sociologist Cornell West, and Green Party standard bearer Jill Stein — are included?

As one can guess, the totals for Biden and Trump shrink a bit with third-party challengers, but still show a 38% to 38% tie, with RFK Jr. at 10% (down from 12% in May), West at 1%, and Stein and “other” at 2%.

While month-to-month changes are small for both candidates, some interesting shifts occurred within individual voting groups.

In May, 33% of independents supported Trump, 25% Biden, 18% RFK Jr. and 6% “other.” In June, that had become 31% Trump, 22% Biden, 18% RFK Jr., and 5% “other.” That shift among independents, who make up about 28% of the I&I/TIPP responses, seems to favor Trump.

In another question, we asked respondents whether they “strongly” or “moderately” supported their respective candidates. It’s called “support intensity.”

Again, Trump has an edge in voter enthusiasm, with 65% of his backers saying they support him “strongly,” while 32% responded “moderately,” for a total of 97%. Biden, meanwhile, received 60% strong support, but 38% moderate, for a total of 98%.

So, while the overall support is roughly the same, Trump appears to have five-point edge when it comes to the strength of his backing, possibly key to whether each candidate's supporters bother to show up at the polls in November.

When the supporters of potential spoiler RFK Jr. are thrown into the mix, it becomes apparent that his support isn’t as strong as that of the two main candidates. Of his backers, only 34% support him “strongly,” 55% “moderately”, and 10% “not sure.”

The I&I/TIPP Poll also asks questions that try to find hidden preferences, leanings, or perceptions among reticent voters.

For instance: “Regardless of your candidate preference, who do you expect to win the presidential election in November?”

Once again, as the chart above shows, it’s a dead heat, 36% Biden, 36% Trump. Another 15% said it was “too close to call,” while 10% responded, “I don’t know enough to answer one way or the other.” Among Republicans, 71% said Trump, 7% Biden, and 12% said too close to call, nearly identical to Democrats’ 72% Biden, 6% Trump, and 12% too close to call.

Perhaps the most revealing of the questions is one intended to find out how voters of both major parties and independents perceive their neighbors’ voting: “To the best of your knowledge, if the presidential election were held today, who do you believe most of your neighbors would vote for?”

There, as the chart shows, 43% answered Trump, compared to 31% for Biden. Another 25% said “not sure.”

But the bulk of that difference was affiliation: 73% of Republicans believe their neighbors will vote for Trump, compared to just 15% of Dems and 42% of independents. But 62% of Democrats think their neighbors will give Biden their vote, versus only 8% of Republicans and 15% of independents.

If anyone was expecting a sudden mass exodus of Trump voters following his legal defeat they were certainly disappointed. If anything, Trump’s hand seems to have strengthened some in the immediate aftermath of his conviction.

Other recent polls back up I&I/TIPP’s recent soundings of public opinion on Trump’s post-conviction political prospects, including polls showing Republicans and Democrats more likely to support Trump, weakening support for third-party candidates, a clear trend toward greater minority support for Trump, and snap polls taken online after the verdict showing Trump moving ahead of Biden.

As for the conviction itself, it’s quite possible that it will be overturned, with libertarian Reason Magazine (not pro-Trump) flatly declaring Trump’s convictions “unconstitutional,” George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley calling the trial an “abuse” of the U.S. justice system, while nationally recognized constitutional and criminal lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who defended Trump in his first impeachment trial, added “I am not encouraged that he’ll get a fair appeal.”

Even former Vice President Mike Pence, no longer on speaking terms with Trump after a bitter falling-out, told Fox News: “The conviction of former President Trump on politically motivated charges is an outrage and disservice to the nation.”

The questions over Trump’s trial and the 34 separate charges brought by progressive New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who made trying Trump a campaign promise in his run for office, and tried before Judge Juan Merchan will be bitterly debated in the coming months.

One thing is clear and incontrovertible: No case like this has ever been tried before, and the clear political biases evident during the trial are already being harshly criticized by attorneys on both sides of the political spectrum. But whether an appeal will result in the unanimous jury decision being overturned is unclear at best.

As to whether this would keep the former president from reclaiming the White House, Trump perhaps had the final say immediately after his conviction: “The real verdict is gonna be Nov. 5 by the people, and they know what happened here today. Everybody knows what happened here.”

As the I&I/TIPP Poll suggests, at least for now, Trump does not seem to be politically damaged by his legal troubles. He may even be politically stronger.

I&I/TIPP publishes timely, unique, and informative data each month on topics of public interest. TIPP’s reputation for polling excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.

Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.

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