May 30, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump, Biden agree: Only November matters

Donald Trump, wearing a blue suit and blue tie, stands with his eyes shut.

Photo: Justin Lane-Pool/Getty Images

A scowling Donald Trump, now a convicted felon, told reporters Thursday that the "real verdict" for him "is going to be Nov. 5, by the people."

Why it matters: That's one of the few things that Trump and President Biden agreed on in the hour after Trump's historic conviction on 34 felony counts: Voters will deliver the final judgment on Trump on Election Day.

  • Even as Trump supporters vowed retribution while Biden's tried to stifle their satisfaction with mixed results, both candidates downplayed a watershed moment in U.S. history: A former U.S. president convicted of a felony by a jury of his peers, while trying to win back the White House.
  • "Today's verdict does not change the fact that the American people face a simple reality. There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box," said Michael Tyler, communications director for the Biden campaign.

Driving the news: Trump's conviction added a host of unknowns and "never-befores" to a campaign already full of them.

  • His sentencing is scheduled for July 11 — four days before the start of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.
  • Trump could receive a few years in prison. But even if he's sentenced to do time, that wouldn't happen until his appeals were exhausted.

The big picture: The day might have felt momentous, but many Democrats, as well as the Biden campaign, are convinced the vast majority of voters already have formed their opinions on Trump.

  • The country is deeply divided, with warring political tribes choosing their own news sources and information feeds — their own realities.
  • Bolstering the view that most Americans are living in partisan, parallel universes: Trump retained a slight lead in the polls during the trial even as embarrassing details about his alleged sexual encounter with a porn star were laid bare in the Manhattan courtroom.

Zoom in: The question that's bedeviling both campaigns is whether the attachment of two words — "convicted felon" — to Trump's name will change the minds of many independent voters and even some Republicans, as several polls have suggested.

  • Overnight polls might give an early indication, but pollsters like to survey voters over several days to get a more accurate sample.
  • A Quinnipiac survey last week found that about 23% of independents said a guilty verdict would make them less likely to vote for Trump, compared to 11% who say it would make them more likely to back him.

Another thing to watch: Trump's GOP is famously loyal to him, including when it has come to casting him as a victim of America's judicial system.

  • Now many Republican candidates for office will be put in a position of trashing that system to defend Trump.

Between the lines: Those in the Biden campaign aren't exactly ignoring the verdict.

  • But they are trying to use it to focus voters on what they think are Trump's bigger vulnerabilities.
  • "The threat Trump poses to our democracy has never been greater," Tyler said in the campaign statement.
  • "He is running an increasingly unhinged campaign of revenge and retribution, pledging to be a dictator 'on day one' and calling for our Constitution to be 'terminated' so he can regain and keep power."

In a post on Truth Social late today, Trump was succinct:

  • "VICTORY ON NOVEMBER 5TH. SAVE AMERICA!!!"

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