Former President Donald Trump has been found guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with a $130,000 hush money payment made to an adult film star shortly before the 2016 presidential election and many people are asking if the conviction will have any affect on his chances in a rematch against President Joe Biden this fall.

Polls showed Trump leading Biden in most of the critical battleground states prior to the 12-member New York City jury rendering a unanimous verdict early Thursday evening. Trump is the first former U.S. president to found guilty of a felony.

A sentencing date has been set for July 11th. Trump has continued to insist that he has done nothing wrong and that the decision was “rigged,” from the start. Trump’s attorneys have said they will appeal the conviction. Jail time is considered unlikely in the case.

How much do voters care about the conviction?

Baltimore Post-Examiner spoke with political analysts on Thursday afternoon shortly before the verdict was read to get their thoughts.

“There have been polls in the past reflecting the fact that there are few folks in the middle who might be impacted negatively toward the [former] president if a conviction is returned. It would inflame the Democratic base and fundraising. But it would equally inflame the Republican base as well given the circumstances of this case,” said former Md. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

“I don’t see it having a profound effect on this race. The repercussions for the [former president] would be more negative if there was some clear wrongdoing involved here,” Ehrlich, a Republican, added.

Todd Eberly, a professor of political science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, disagreed, saying a conviction could turn more moderate-leaning voters away from Trump.

“We’re so polarized right now that most Republicans will just dismiss the conviction as being politically motivated, despite it being handed down by a jury vetted by the defense and prosecution. But it will likely have an impact on Independent voters and on the 20% or so of Republican voters who backed Nikki Haley.”

Thomas Schaller, a professor of political science at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), said it is unclear how the verdict might affect the election but that it is unlikely to detract significant support from Trump loyalists.

“I have no idea how the verdict might affect the outcome other than to say it won’t render Trump unable to win election. After two impeachments, the January 6 domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol he instigated, and the fact that he cheated on his third wife with a porn star, can any event end Trump’s political career? As Trump boasted in 2016, he could shoot somebody in broad daylight in Manhattan and he wouldn’t lose any of his supporters, which if anyone said the same they’d be hammered for calling his loyalists deplorable.”

Schaller is the co-author of White Rural Rage: The Threat to American Democracy. The New York Times best-seller was published in February.

Rural white voters have long supported the GOP and tend to be among Trump’s strongest supporters.

How might various legal penalties impact Trump’s candidacy? 

“Would he only be fined? Would he get house arrest with probation? Would he spend any time in jail? Different sentences would have different impacts on the campaign,” Eberly said. “Actual jail time would be a very difficult thing for him to recover from and could even result in Republicans wondering whether or not he should be the nominee and could cause a fight at the GOP convention.”

Ehrlich said the prosecution was politically motivated and that prosecutors know the conviction is unlikely to stand on appeal.

“They just want a conviction. That’s all they want. They’re gonna take it and run with it. I think a lot of people in the Republican base and a fair amount of people in the middle see it as an unfair and unjust and clearly a lopsided playing field. At some point, the press’ and everyone else’s attention will return to inflation and the border and Iran.”

What if a different verdict had been rendered?

“A not guilty verdict would likely provide a significant boost to Trump and make it much easier for him to claim that this was all politically motivated,” Eberly said.”A not guilty verdict would be a huge in-kind contribution to his campaign and it would dominate the news. It’d be the best possible outcome for Trump.”

A mistrial also likely would have been viewed as a victory for Trump, Eberly said.

“If there is a hung jury, the prosecution would need to decide whether to even bother re-trying him. That would likely be influenced by how many jurors had voted to convict. But if there isn’t a verdict, Trump will spin it as a win and it’d be difficult to re-try the case before the election. It will be interesting though. If the jury is hung because of just one holdout, it’d likely result in heavy scrutiny of that one juror.”

Ehrlich echoed similar thoughts.

“Not Guilty is quite obviously a political winner. A not guilty would certainly be a plus. Not necessarily as big a plus as a normal situation. Because there is nothing normal about this situation. There is never anything normal about Donald J. Trump or the Democrats’ reaction to Donald J. Trump. A hung jury would certainly be more of a W. The story would be pretty much over.”

What happens now? 

The is no law on the books that prevents a convicted felon from running for office.

And Trump will still maintain his right vote in his home state of Florida so long as he is not incarcerated at the time of the election.

Trump’s conviction was celebrated by Democrats.

President Biden used the opportunity to raise money for his campaign.

Republicans blasted the conviction.

It remains to be seen how Trump’s conviction will play out in the campaign.

But it is nevertheless a historic decision that will be discussed and debated for years to come.

Trump now faces three other criminal cases.

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