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Donald Trump has been convicted of a crime. Here’s how it affects the 2024 presidential race

NEW YORK: Convicted of 34 felonies, Donald Trump is barred from owning a gun, holding public office or even voting in many states.

But in 158 days, voters across America will decide whether he will return to the White House and serve another four years as president.
Trump’s conviction in a hush money trial in New York on Thursday is a stunning development in an already unusual presidential election with profound implications for the justice system and perhaps American democracy itself.
But in a deeply divided America, it is unclear whether Trump’s status as a convicted felon will have any bearing on the 2024 election. Trump remains in a competitive position against President Joe Biden this fall, even though the Republican former president now faces the possibility of prison time before the November elections.
There were immediate signs, at least in the short term, that the unanimous guilty verdict helped unify the various factions of the Republican Party, as GOP officials in Congress and in state capitols across the country rallied behind their presumptive presidential nominee as his campaign looked to benefit. from a flood of new fundraising dollars.
Standing outside the courtroom, Trump described the verdict as the result of a “rigged, disgraceful trial.”
“The people will make the real judgment on November 5,” Trump said, referring to Election Day. “This is long overdue.”
The immediate reaction from elected Democrats was muted by comparison, though the Biden campaign issued a fundraising appeal within minutes of the ruling that suggested the fundamentals of the election had not changed.
“We are THRILLED that justice has finally been served,” the campaign wrote. “But this convicted felon can STILL win the presidency this fall without a huge surge in Democratic support.”
Strategists predict a mild impact
A few polls have been conducted on the impact of a conviction, although such hypothetical scenarios are notoriously difficult to predict.
A recent ABC News/Ipsos poll found that only 4 percent of Trump supporters said they would withdraw their support if he were convicted of a crime, though an additional 16 percent said they would reconsider.
On the eve of the ruling, the Trump campaign released a note from its polling team suggesting the impact of the trial “is already embedded in the race in the target states.”
Trump campaign advisers argued that the case would help them motivate their core supporters. WinRed, the campaign’s fundraising platform, received so many donations that it crashed. Helpers quickly set up a back-up platform to collect the influx of money.
Trump was headed to a fundraising event Thursday night that was planned ahead of the ruling, according to a person familiar with his plans who was not authorized to speak publicly.
His two top campaign advisers, Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita, were not with him in New York but in Palm Beach, Florida, where the campaign is headquartered.
And while it may be days or weeks before we know for sure, Trump’s critics in both parties generally agreed there might not be much political fallout, though some hoped the convictions would have at least a marginal impact on what probably close to the election.
Sarah Longwell, the founder of Republican Voters Against Trump, who runs regular focus groups, suggested the conviction could help Biden on the fringes by pushing out so-called “dual enemies” — a term used to describe voters who don’t like Trump and Biden – away from Trump.
But more than anything else, it suggested that voters simply weren’t following the trial closely.
“The best thing about the trial being over is that it’s over,” Longwell said, describing the courtroom scene as a distraction from the more serious issues in the campaign. “Now will be an opportunity to focus the narrative on who Trump is and what a second Trump term would look like.”
Republican pollster Neil Newhouse predicted that the trial may ultimately have little impact in the fast-paced news environment, months before early polls open.
“Voters have short memories and even shorter attention spans,” Newhouse said. “Just as the former president’s two impeachments did little to dent Trump’s support, this conviction may be overshadowed by the first presidential debate three weeks from now.”
Plan for a post-conviction campaign
The judge set sentencing for July 11, just four days before the scheduled start of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.
Each of the charges of falsifying business records carries up to four years in prison, although prosecutors have not said whether they plan to seek prison terms. It’s also not clear whether the judge – who earlier in the trial warned of jail time for violating the restraining order – would have imposed that sentence even if asked.
Trump will be able to vote in Florida, where he resides, in 2019 if he is not in jail on Election Day.
And prison would not stop Trump from continuing his pursuit of the White House.
Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump, who was with the former president in court this week and is also co-chair of the Republican National Committee, said in an interview with Fox News before the verdict that Trump would still try to campaign for the presidency if convicted.
If Trump is sentenced to house arrest, she said, “If that is the case, we will provide him with virtual rallies and campaign events. And we will have to play the combination that was given to us.”
There are no campaign rallies on the calendar for now, although Trump is expected to hold a fundraiser next week.
Biden himself has yet to make a statement.
He spent the night at the family’s beach house in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, after marking the anniversary of his son Beau’s death at church the previous day.
Voters are being challenged by the verdict
Texas voter Steven Guarner, a 24-year-old nurse, said he has not yet decided who he will vote for in the upcoming election.
Guarner, an independent, said the ruling will be the deciding factor for him as he examines the details of the trial. But he didn’t think it would sway the many voters who already made up their minds about a Biden-Trump rematch.
“I think his base is the type that maybe don’t care much or maybe agree with him about the judicial system,” Guarner said of Trump.
Indeed, Republican officials from Florida to Wisconsin to Arkansas and Illinois denounced the verdict as a miscarriage of justice by what they described as a politically motivated prosecutor and a blue-state jury.
Brian Schimming, chairman of the executive committee of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, called the case against Trump a “fraud” and a “national disgrace.”
“There was no justice in New York today,” Schimming charged.
And Michael Perez Ruiz, 47, who ordered food shortly after the verdict at Miami’s Versailles restaurant, an icon of the city’s GOP-leaning Cuban American community, said he would continue to stand by Trump.
“I would vote for him 20 times over,” Perez Ruiz said.

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