Thursday, May 23, 2024

Nearly 25% of former President Donald J. Trump’s supporters believe that he should not be the Republican Party’s presidential nominee next year if he is found guilty of a crime, as indicated by a New York Times/Siena College poll.

Mr. Trump has a significant lead among the Republican candidates vying for the party’s presidential nomination, and he has used the prosecutions he faces to cast himself as the target of political persecution by Democrats and President Biden. However, the poll suggests that a noteworthy minority of his supporters might reconsider if he is found guilty in any of the four criminal cases he is facing, even if he wins the primary contest.

An additional 20% of Trump supporters stated that he should go to prison if convicted in the federal case in Washington, where he is accused of plotting to overturn the 2020 election. Also, 23% of his supporters believe that he has committed “serious federal crimes,” up from 11% in July.

The poll was conducted before the Colorado Supreme Court decision disqualifying Mr. Trump from the Republican primary ballot in that state, citing the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies anyone found to have participated in an insurrection from holding office.

The findings in the poll underscore the importance to Mr. Trump of the strategy he and his lawyers are pursuing to delay his trials, especially the federal election interference case in Washington.

The federal case in Washington is scheduled to start in early March, and Mr. Trump has sought to postpone the other trials in Florida, Manhattan, and Georgia where he has been charged in various criminal conspiracies.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly described the cases against him, including those brought by state prosecutors, as political “witch hunts” designed to impede his candidacy. The Times poll found that 84% of Mr. Trump’s supporters — and 46% of all registered voters surveyed — believe that the various charges he is facing are “mostly politically motivated.”

Mr. Trump has a history of using delay tactics in civil litigation, but the criminal cases are different. Mr. Trump had private conversations where he expressed the belief that the Justice Department would drop the cases against him if he were re-elected. Some advisers believe that it would be virtually impossible under the Constitution for state cases to proceed against him while he was a sitting president.

Delaying the trials until after the election would also prevent voters from hearing the extensive evidence against Mr. Trump collected by prosecutors.

If the election interference case were postponed until after the race was decided, it would mean that millions of Americans would never hear the details of Mr. Trump’s attempts to derail the results of the last election before considering him for office again in 2024.

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