Jurors in the landmark criminal trial against former US President Donald Trump are anticipated to deliver a verdict as early as next week, which could have significant repercussions for the upcoming 2024 presidential race.

Trump, who has maintained his innocence, faces 34 charges of falsifying business records to conceal a payment intended to prevent porn star Stormy Daniels from disclosing a purported sexual encounter from 2006—an allegation Trump denies.

This trial in New York, though deemed the least significant among the four criminal cases against him, has diverted his attention from campaigning to court appearances, casting a spotlight on the only case likely to be adjudicated before his November 5 electoral bout against Democratic incumbent Joe Biden.

The outcomes from the jury—whether a conviction, an acquittal, or a hung jury—carry varied implications for Trump’s campaign. Polls suggest a conviction could notably damage his electoral prospects, particularly in pivotal battleground states. A Reuters/Ipsos poll highlighted that a quarter of Republican voters would not support Trump if convicted, and 60% of independents shared this sentiment.

The opinions among political analysts vary. Republican pollster Whit Ayres expressed skepticism that a conviction would deter a substantial number of Republican voters but acknowledged that even a minimal shift among moderate Republicans and independents could benefit Biden. Ayres also noted that the nature of the case, spearheaded by a Democratic prosecutor and based on novel legal theories, could enable Republicans to portray any conviction as politically motivated.

“If I were trying to design a court case that would be easy for Republicans to dismiss as a partisan witch hunt, I would design exactly the case that’s being brought in New York,” Ayres stated.

Republican consultant Tricia McLaughlin, formerly with Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign, believed a guilty verdict would psychologically affect Trump, known for his aversion to losing, and significantly drain his resources due to probable appeals.

Conversely, Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution downplayed the potential impact of a conviction on the presidential race, attributing it to commonplace falsehoods about personal misconduct. “In the end, this amounts to lying about sex. I think the view probably of the majority of Americans is that everybody lies about sex,” Galston remarked.

Across the political spectrum, analysts concur that an acquittal would significantly bolster Trump, reinforcing his narrative of political persecution. Trump’s ability to leverage a not-guilty verdict could extend to dismissing charges in other states and at the federal level, enhancing his campaign messaging.

Karen Finney, a Democratic consultant, noted that regardless of the outcome, the scandalous revelations from the trial could alienate certain voter segments, notably suburban women. However, she predicted that Trump would use an acquittal to claim a major triumph.

In the event of a hung jury resulting in a mistrial, the situation could still be spun as a victory by Trump, though without the conclusive vindication an acquittal would provide. A mistrial would also bring an end to the media attention Trump thrives on, while not entirely clearing him of the charges.

Finney anticipates that once the trial concludes and any gag order is lifted, Trump will intensify his attacks against his adversaries, using the platform to shape public perception further. Regardless of the trial’s outcome, the sordid details now in the public eye will continue to resonate with voters.



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