May 16, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Georgia focus group voter on Trump trials: "We need an answer"

 Former U.S. President Donald Trump appears in court during his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 16, 2024 in New York City.

Former President Trump at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 16 in New York City. Photo: Victor J. Blue-Pool/Getty Images

Most Georgia swing voters say they are skeptical that former President Trump would face serious punishment over his criminal indictments, even if he's convicted, according to our latest Engagious/Sago focus groups.

Why it matters: These voters, who voted for President Biden in 2020 after voting for Trump in 2016, said they think the ex-president is getting special treatment over his four criminal indictments.

  • It's a sign of the broad distrust among voters of the criminal justice system, particularly when dealing with one of the most famous politicians in the world.
  • "Any other regular person would still be in jail or house arrest or something," said Marquetta F.
  • "I'm not expecting any profound thing to happen after the trial [whether he's] found guilty or not guilty. This is just another day for him."

Driving the news: 11 participants out of 14 said they think that Trump is not being treated like other criminal defendants. Five are registered Democrats, three are Republicans, and six are independents.

  • "Between [the New York criminal] case, the case in Georgia, any other pending legal case that he's got, he's guilty of something and he's going to be found guilty of something and ... either finagle his way out of going to jail or he will end up spending a night in jail and get a slap on the wrist," said Chris H.
  • Trump faces 88 felony counts across four criminal indictments. He's currently on trial in Manhattan for allegedly falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment before the 2016 election.
  • "While Trump chafes at the constraints of the criminal justice system, Georgia swing voters are convinced in the end he'll escape like Houdini," said Rich Thau, president of Engagious, who moderated the focus groups.

Between the lines: Trump, who has denied wrongdoing across his cases, has made his criminal indictments central to his presidential bid, casting himself as the victim of politically motivated prosecutors.

  • While a focus group is not a statistically significant sample like a poll, the responses show how some voters are thinking and talking about current events.
  • "He's always going to find somebody else that will accept the blame for him and that will end up being punished over him," said Marie H.

The bottom line: While most Georgia swing voters say the ongoing New York criminal case is not changing their views of Trump, they still would like his trials to be resolved before the election, although that is looking increasingly unlikely.

  • "If we're going to hold him accountable, it needs to be before he has the opportunity to possibly get the highest office in the land back, we need an answer, yes or no," said Joel M.

Go deeper: Trump's trial trap: Voters to be his most important jury

Go deeper