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Trump’s conviction is an opportunity to sway independent voters — especially women

News papers detailing Donald Trump's conviction on the front page
Elliott Cowand Jr/Shutterstock

Most Americans say they won’t change their votes as a result of Trump’s historic trial, but the verdict could give both parties an opportunity to court independents, a 19th News/SurveyMonkey poll found.

Originally published by The 19th

A new 19th News/SurveyMonkey poll finds little indication that former President Donald Trump’s felony conviction changed Americans’ vote choices ahead of the November election — but offered signs that independent voters who do not lean toward either party are still swayable. The poll found significant gender gaps among Republicans and independents on key questions about Trump’s trial and the verdict.

American women who identify as independents or Republicans were less likely to disagree with Trump’s criminal conviction for falsifying business records and less likely to believe Trump was treated unfairly than independent men, according to the poll, conducted following Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records by a Manhattan jury.

Independents were significantly less likely than partisans to say they followed the trial and had heard of the verdict. That dynamic presents an opportunity for both candidates to campaign on the conviction in a presidential election that is likely to be decided by just tens of thousands of votes in a handful of key battleground states.

Independents were less likely to say that they were registered to vote or that they planned to vote in 2024.

Trump’s charges were related to a $130,000 payment made to former adult film star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election, aimed at preventing Daniels from speaking publicly about what she described as a one-night sexual encounter between her and Trump in 2006. Witnesses during the trial testified that Trump was concerned about the impact that Daniels’ claims would have on women voters in 2016. The prosecution also highlighted a similar $150,000 payment, made months earlier, to Karen McDougal, a model and actress who says she had an affair with Trump in 2006. Trump denied he had sexual encounters with either woman.

The poll surveyed 5,893 American adults using SurveyMonkey’s online panel between May 30 and 31 with a modeled error estimate of 1.5 percentage points.

Overall, Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to agree with the verdict and to believe Trump was treated fairly during the trial, with independents often falling in between. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they planned to vote for Trump while 30 percent said they planned to vote for President Joe Biden; 20 percent were undecided and 9 percent said they did not plan to vote. In all, 9 percent of respondents said the verdict changed their vote choice, but those changes cancel each other out.

More than half of Republican men — 58 percent — said Daniels was treated fairly during the trial, while just under half of Republican women said the same. Independent men were slightly more likely than independent women to say Daniels was treated fairly.

Eighty-one percent of Americans had heard of the verdict before being polled. Two-thirds said they followed the trial. Over 70 percent of those who identified with or leaned toward either the Republican or Democratic Party said they followed the trial, compared with just 42 percent of independents who did not lean toward either party.

Trump, who is set to be sentenced July 11, could face up to four years in prison on each count, though it’s unclear whether he’ll face jail time. Trump is expected to appeal the verdict.

Overall, 43 percent of men and 27 percent of women disagreed with the verdict.

The survey also found notable gender gaps among independents and Republicans: Women of both groups were more likely than men to agree with the verdict and to believe Trump was treated fairly. Nearly half of independent women — 47 percent — strongly or somewhat agreed with the verdict, while 13 percent strongly or somewhat disagreed. By contrast, 37 percent of independent men agreed with the verdict, and 22 percent disagreed.

Among Republicans, 78 percent of men but 67 of women disagreed with the verdict. Two-thirds of Republican men strongly disagreed with the outcome; for Republican women, that figure was 54 percent.

The hush money case is one of four cases in which Trump faces criminal charges and the only one likely to go to trial before the November election.

More than half of Americans, 57 percent, believed Trump had committed a crime, and a higher number, 67 percent, believed that what he did was morally wrong.

Seventy percent of independent women but 55 percent of independent men believe Trump committed a crime. An equal share of Republican men and women, 40 percent, believed Trump’s actions were morally wrong, but independents broke along gender lines: 77 percent of women and 61 percent of men said they believed Trump’s actions were wrong.

Trump has also been hit with hefty judgments in civil cases, including a civil fraud case against his businesses brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James and defamation lawsuits brought by the former Elle advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who says Trump raped her in the 1990s. Trump was found liable in May 2023 for defaming and sexually assaulting Carroll; a jury in January again found Trump liable for defamation and ordered him to pay Carroll $83.3 million in damages. Trump is appealing that case.

Sixty-four percent of Americans said they had heard of the verdicts in Carroll’s lawsuits. Overall, men were slightly more likely than women to have heard of the Carroll verdicts, a gap more pronounced among Republicans: 72 percent of Republican men knew of the cases, compared with 58 percent of Republican women.

Trump did not testify during his six-week hush money trial, which began with jury selection on April 15. The 12-member jury heard from a number of witnesses, including Daniels and Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who says he made the payment to Daniels on Trump’s behalf. Cohen pleaded guilty to charges connected to the payments in 2018 and served prison time.

On net, 49 percent of Americans surveyed believed the trial was fair, while 35 percent did not. Nearly half of independent women, 48 percent, believed the trial was fair, compared with 36 percent of independent men. Nearly four-fifths of Republican men, 79 percent, believed the trial was not fair, compared with 66 percent of Republican women. Republican men were also 14 points more likely to say the trial was not at all fair than Republican women, 69 to 55 percent.

Respondents who said the trial was unfair were most likely to name the judge, Juan Merchan; the media; and the prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office as reasons the trial was unfair.

Among Republicans and independents, men were more likely than women to say Trump was treated unfairly: 77 percent of Republican men and 23 percent of independent men said Trump was not treated fairly, compared with 67 percent of Republican women and 13 percent of independent women.

The poll found similar gender gaps in the suburbs, which have shifted more Democratic in the past several election cycles. Suburban women, who have driven much of that change, were 15 points more likely than suburban men to agree with the verdict. Suburban women were also significantly more likely to believe that Trump committed a crime, that his actions were morally wrong and that the trial was fair.

There were also some notable gender gaps among Hispanics, another key demographic that both parties see as critical to their chances in November: 35 percent of Hispanic men but 18 percent of Hispanic women disagreed with the verdict. Hispanic women were also 17 points more likely than Hispanic men to agree that Trump committed a crime and that his actions were morally wrong. Nearly 60 percent of Hispanic women but 42 percent of Hispanic men said the trial was fair.

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