WASHINGTON – More than half of swing-state voters would not vote for Donald Trump if he were convicted of a crime, according to a new Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll, a warning sign for the Republican front runner who continues to lead United States President Joe Biden in key states.
The poll found that 53 per cent of voters in the seven closely watched battleground states would be unwilling to vote for Trump in the general election if he were found guilty of a crime, a figure that grows to 55 per cent if he is sentenced to prison.
Trump’s 91 criminal charges in four separate indictments and related court appearances have so far fuelled his standing in the Republican primary field and campaign fund-raising efforts, but the data released on Jan 31 indicates there is a limit to how much his legal battles will help him politically.
Voters’ reluctance to support a convicted Trump is one of the few dark spots for the former president in the poll that otherwise shows him growing his margin over Mr Biden in a head-to-head contest.
Trump leads Mr Biden by an average of 6 percentage points in the seven critical swing states that will likely decide the 2024 presidential election, according to the poll.
The former president romped to victory in the first two Republican primary contests and is poised to sew up his party’s nomination in the coming weeks.
Trump has used the criminal charges to paint himself as a victim of prosecutors, whom he accuses of political bias. That has galvanised the party’s base around his candidacy and drawn support away from his challengers.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has already dropped out of the race, and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley has pledged to continue running through early March after losing to Trump in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Despite Republicans rallying around Trump after four indictments, the poll suggests that a conviction and prison sentence could change the equation for some voters. Nearly one in four – 23 per cent – of swing-state Republicans say they are unwilling to support him if convicted.
‘Base is evolving’
Morning Consult vice-president Caroline Bye said a conviction shrinks Trump’s pool of support. He loses one out of every five of his 2020 voters if he is found guilty, she said.
“The base is evolving, and the base is changing,” she said. “But there are certainly loyal Trump voters who will continue to vote for Trump.”
Voters were split over whether states should be able to remove Trump’s name from the ballot for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Forty-five per cent said states should not have the right to remove him, while 21 per cent said states should be able to rule him ineligible only if he is criminally convicted of insurrection-related charges. The remaining respondents said states should be able to delete his name, regardless of any conviction.
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