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Trump loved Daily Mail’s poll showing a post-verdict popularity surge – but now our expert JAMES JOHNSON reveals the survey secrets that threaten to change everything

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It’s no wonder he’s known as Telfon Don.

Trump touted DailyMail.com’s latest poll during a Friday news conference in the wake of his felony conviction, declaring it proof that the American people are rallying to his side.

Indeed, the survey, conducted Thursday night after the verdict was announced, found that positive views of the ex-president among the electorate as a whole increased by six percentage points.

He is now viewed more favorably by nearly every voting bloc – except Democrats – than he was before the Manhattan jury’s decision.

However, the public remains evenly split in their opinion of the former president – with 49 percent holding a positive perception and 48 holding a negative one.

This snapshot of voters also sheds new light on a trend that the Mail has been tracking over the last year: that as the number of indictments and now convictions against Trump have increased, so too has his public support.

We’ve delved into the details of our polling, focus groups and field research to determine why.

Although former president Trump heaped praise on DailyMail's poll suggesting Americans aren't turned off by his conviction, a polling expert reveals why it may not translate to the ballot box

Although former president Trump heaped praise on DailyMail’s poll suggesting Americans aren’t turned off by his conviction, a polling expert reveals why it may not translate to the ballot box 

INDEPENDENTS STREAK TO TRUMP

Last August, I was speaking to a group of independent voters in Georgia when Fulton County officials released Trump’s booking photo.

The now-infamous mugshot was taken after the ex-president surrendered to authorities on charges related to alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Upon seeing the image, heads shook and frowns were made.

Though, rather than expressing disapproval of Trump’s alleged criminality, the focus group’s view was that the state had gone too far. They perceived a political motivation behind the prosecution.

Since that day, the Mail’s polling has seen Trump’s positive favorability rating among independents increase from four percentage points behind Biden to three points ahead of the incumbent president.

That is not what many pundits predicted from independent-minded voters who tend to be college-educated suburbanites averse to political drama.

This week’s new survey showed an additional four percentage point swing among these independents towards a more positive view of Trump.

Perhaps, a guilty verdict in any of the other cases pending against the 45th president would have influenced these voters differently: election conspiracy and mishandling classified documents are viewed rather more seriously. 

But, it appears, independents largely do not think the hush-money case was undertaken with the right motives or that Trump’s actions were troubling enough for the case to be charged.

With that information to hand, it is unsurprising that the verdict led to 20 percent of independents saying they feel more positive about Trump – and just 16 percent more negative.

And there was more good news for the Republican candidate in this survey…

J.L. Partners polled 403 likely voters immediately after Thursday's guilty verdict to assess its impact on the November election. The results suggest a bump for Trump

J.L. Partners polled 403 likely voters immediately after Thursday’s guilty verdict to assess its impact on the November election. The results suggest a bump for Trump

MAGA WORLD RALLIES

The impulse to rally around Trump was most pronounced, unsurprisingly, among his base. 

In our survey, 36 percent of Trump 2020 voters said his felony conviction made them feel more positive about him.

Fifty-four percent said the jury’s decision had no impact on their feelings. And six percent said the guilty verdict made them feel more negative.

Voters aged 65 and up were largely unmoved by the verdict. Only 11 percent came away with a more negative opinion. Nearly seven in 10 seniors said their opinions – either positive or negative – hadn’t changed.

Those results would be consistent with the feedback I received while on the ground in snowy Iowa this January, as the state prepared for its first-in-the-nation caucus.

I sat down with Rocky, a 69-year-old registered Republican, who told me that early in the Republican presidential race he was most interested in backing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as a potential nominee. But as Trump’s indictments started dropping in early 2023, Rocky said, his final choice became clear.

Trump is a ‘fighter,’ struggling against a corrupt state, he said. To Rocky’s mind, Trump deserved his support.

The overwhelmingly positive response to the verdict among the party faithful indicates that Trump remains on track to retain and even build on the high-level of enthusiasm among his bedrock of supporters.

Never-Trump GOP voters are another story…

Trump opponents celebrated the result outside the courthouse

Trump opponents celebrated the result outside the courthouse

GOP OLD GUARD UPSET – BUT FOR HOW LONG?

The Mail’s poll suggests that Trump still faces a challenge when it comes to mobilizing a significant group of Republicans.

One in ten GOPers said that they have a more negative view of Trump after the verdict. These people fall heavily within the moderate conservative camp.

Often having backed Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis in the primaries, these are the remnants of the party’s old guard: they are generally older, affluent, college-educated and from business backgrounds.

In the pithy words of one, a retiree from North Carolina: ‘For Republicans like myself it’s all very embarrassing. It’s like finding out your sister is a prostitute.’

But will these Republicans really take this grievance all the way to November?

Both Haley and DeSantis – despite their sometimes brutal clashes with Trump – have now officially endorsed him.

The prize of lower taxes – with Trump’s tax cuts set to expire in 2025 and more conservative Supreme Court appointments – might just persuade these moderates to get on board.

Biden’s base is another story…

Following his 2024 election rival's conviction, President Biden condemned Trump's response and said it is 'irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged just because they don't like the verdict'

Following his 2024 election rival’s conviction, President Biden condemned Trump’s response and said it is ‘irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged just because they don’t like the verdict’ 

DEMOCRATS OUTRAGED BUT UNMOVED

President Biden’s typical base-voter detests Donald Trump.

When asked to describe their reaction to the verdict, this group’s number one emotional response was ‘happy’ and the most common word to describe their rationale was that Trump is a ‘criminal.’

But that is how a vast majority of Democrats have long felt. Last year, when the Mail asked Democrats to sum up their view of Trump in a word, they said ‘criminal’ then too.

Fifty-five percent said their negative opinion of Trump remained unchanged by the verdict this week. Only two in 10 Dems told us that they now felt more negative about him. 

Core elements of the party’s base were similarly unaffected.

Two in 10 young voters – between the ages of 18 and 29 – said their negative opinions about Trump were not changed. Nineteen percent felt more negative about him. 

Also concerning for Democrats, it appears Biden’s base is not only unenthusiastic – but fractured.

In general, young voters are angry with Biden over his handling of the war in Gaza. Our March poll showed the President’s favorability ratings down 20 percentage points among 18 to 29-year-old women since October 7.

Strikingly, 35 percent of black voters in this week’s survey said their positive perception of Trump actually increased while 19 percent turned sour on him.

Black Americans, so crucial to Biden’s re-election, are leaning towards voting for Independent candidate RFK Jr, or not voting at all, in numbers that are very dangerous for Biden.

Biden is also only projected to hold onto 73 percent of his 2020 voting base compared to Trump’s 86 percent. 

If the President’s campaign thought that the verdict would energize and unify their traditional voters – our survey suggests they should think again.

The reason for the apathy of Biden’s base is negative views of the president himself. To change that Democrats will need to bolster their candidate instead of simply criticizing the largely known quantity that is Donald Trump.

What our polling does not answer is: what happens if Trump is sent to prison?

Such a seismic moment could galvanize the Trump base further, or put off the wavering independents and Never-Trump Republicans once and for all.



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