Trump guilty verdict

Is American society radically polarized, or is it the political and media ecosystem that accentuates this perception? There is also in the United States, on concrete subjects, a silent majority, of common sense, ready to compromise, but which does not necessarily find a political translation, due to the respective interests that this polarization generates.

Furthermore, we can note a certain hesitation in the Democratic ranks since last night, after the verdict, beyond the agreed but fair remarks on the preserved rule of law and the equality of all before the law. The Biden camp seems to have integrated in advance the idea that a guilty verdict against Trump will not have a decisive impact on public opinion. The truth is that we don’t know anything at this stage. We can even intuitively imagine that a decisive part of undecided and independent voters will ultimately turn away from Donald Trump, without having any appetite for Joe Biden.

Why, then, not seize this serious moment, to be offensive and say that it would be inconceivable to send a criminal to the White House? To avoid being suspected of using a legal case? But she has just been judged! And these accusations of exploitation have already been raining down on the Republican side for more than a year.

Some commentators also argue that the indictments of Donald Trump in four cases, throughout 2023, have only strengthened the Republican base around him. This is not a decisive and sufficient argument. The nature of the current event – ​​a criminal conviction, perhaps with a prison sentence – is entirely different. The political context is no longer that of the Republican primaries – in which MAGA (Make America Great Again) activists carried disproportionate weight – but that of a general election.

Essential and complex question. Donald Trump will not be able to grant himself a presidential pardon in this matter, which falls under the State of New York. On the other hand, we simply do not have the answer if he is convicted in the two federal cases – on the illegal detention and concealment of classified documents (at his Mar-a-Lago residence), and on on January 6, 2021. These two investigations are entrusted to special prosecutor Jack Smith, but they are now at a standstill, for different reasons. If a trial were successful and Donald Trump was convicted, but returned to the White House, we don’t know what would happen. The question of a presidential pardon for himself would most likely end up before the Supreme Court, dominated by conservative justices (six to three).

Will this conviction have enough impact to disgust certain Trumpists, make them switch to abstention or to vote Democratic? Can the denial of reality in the face of the Republican candidate’s lack of ethics continue again and again?

We do not know. Judging by the Republican primaries, the vote for Nikki Haley, Donald Trump’s latest rival, consistently represented around 30% of right-wing activists and supporters. Even if the former governor of South Carolina recently gave lip service to Donald Trump, it is very likely that some of these voters will not follow her instructions. As for the MAGA base, it has never been concerned about ethical questions. Its fervor is part of a political religion, it has sectarian traits and manifests a penchant for authoritarianism. It is fascinating to observe, for example, the massive support Donald Trump has among evangelicals, always ready to quote the Bible but turning a blind eye to the sexual assault against columnist E. Jean Carroll for which Donald Trump was found responsible civilly.

Does Trump have a chance of being elected despite this conviction?

This unprecedented presidential election calls for the greatest humility in the forecasts. There is a sort of consensus among experts that the result will be extremely close, with a few tens of thousands of votes making the difference in a handful of key states, such as Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona or Pennsylvania.

But even this assessment can be debated. It is unclear at this point whether a third serious candidate, such as Robert Francis Kennedy Jr., will be able to run. We also do not know the Supreme Court’s decision, expected at the end of June, on the request for total presidential immunity filed by Donald Trump, which conditions whether or not the federal trial will take place on January 6, 2021. Be careful, therefore. Despite all of Donald Trump’s handicaps, Joe Biden is also vulnerable on three issues: his very advanced age, and his lack of vitality; cumulative inflation during his term; the migration crisis on the border with Mexico.