Donald Trump's trial disgrace only slightly diminishes his election chances

It is the first verdict against Donald Trump, and probably the only one before the US election in November. It could only influence the decision about the next president if the race is close.

The first reactions to the verdict in the hush money trial against Donald Trump reminded us once again that there is no room for nuance in the black-and-white world of the American culture war. “Will voters still vote for Trump in November out of disgust at this fabricated case?” asked the business paper “Wall Street Journal”, nonchalantly suggesting that this trial was a set-up anyway.

On the other side: howls of triumph. “Boom,” tweeted Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, as if the New York verdict would herald the end of Trump's presidential ambitions. US President Joe Biden chose the statesman-like side-swipe variant and said: “Convicted criminal or not,” there will only be one way to drive Trump “out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box.”

Will judges knock Trump out of the presidential race?

As soon as the flood of charges against the real estate magnate began, his opponents clapped their hands in anticipation because they hoped that the Republican would be eliminated from the race for the White House by a court ruling. But that is unlikely to happen.

If only because of the four lawsuits against the former president, only the current one, for covering up a hush money payment, has been brought to trial. The other three, if they even survive scrutiny by the Constitutional Court, will not begin until after the election on November 5.

But apart from that, the lines are clear anyway. According to a survey conducted by the US public broadcaster NPR on the day of the hush money verdict, two-thirds of those surveyed have made up their minds about voting – even if they are found guilty. The result essentially confirms what Donald Trump once said very confidently eight years ago: “I could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and I wouldn't lose any voters.”

Right-wing extremists continue to radicalise

Not only for the “Make America Great Again” faction, the most loyal of all Trump fans, the lawsuits against Donald Trump are a “witch hunt” orchestrated by the White House to sabotage his presidential candidacy. Regardless of all the evidence, they believe in a “deep state”, a state within a state that secretly controls the fate of the USA, manipulates court cases and falsifies elections.

“He was no longer in the mood to laugh”: Stern reporter describes moment of Trump's conviction

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After the guilty verdict in New York, the next stage of radicalization is brewing. On the relevant right-wing social media platforms such as “Gateway Pundit” or Trump's “TruthSocial” blatant fantasies of murder and insurrection can be read: “Someone in New York who has nothing to lose needs to take care of Merchan (the judge in charge of the trial, ed.)”, they say. Or: “1,000,000 armed men need to go to Washington and hang everyone. That's the only solution.”

Americans have long since made their choice

As frightening as such militant tones sound, they are still a small minority on the right-wing conservative side of the USA. However, other, initially bizarre conspiracy theories have also made their way into the mainstream of Republicans. Two-thirds of them now believe that the 2020 election was “stolen” from Donald Trump and that Joe Biden is wrongly in the White House. These Americans also made their choice before the verdict was announced.

In fact, the voting front has barely moved for years: one half of the country would and will re-elect Joe Biden as president, the other half is firmly on Donald Trump's side. The latter is slightly ahead in the polls, so it will probably be an extremely close race in November, with a few thousand votes deciding the outcome. That is why the guilty verdict could still be decisive in the election.

Donald Trump leads Joe Biden

In the surveys, between 17 and 20 percent of those surveyed said they might not want to vote for Trump if the New York jury found the New York native guilty. The willingness to reconsider the election is more pronounced the less white people are and the less they earn. But whether these swing voters will actually be the deciding factor depends on where they live.

In Trump's Democratic-leaning home state of New York, the Republicans have no chance of winning, just as the Democrats have no chance of winning in conservative Texas – regardless of whether a few defectors should switch sides. In the US electoral system, the presidency is decided by a handful of states, and even there in only a few contested constituencies. In 2020, it was less than 50,000 voters in Arizona, Wisconsin and Georgia who made Joe Biden president.

These three states, as well as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada, could be important again this year. Trump is leading so clearly in the polls except for Wisconsin that he can easily do without a few voters who are disappointed by the process. So far.

Sources: DPA, Reuters,, “New York Times”, Yahoo, CNBC, Fox News, NPR