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New Rasmussen Poll: Trump Guilty or Not Guilty?

Americans weigh in on what they think will happen.

Despite having access to only courtroom sketches and bits and pieces of information sifted through various news outlets, the American public has largely been dialed into the New York trial against former President Donald Trump. Closing arguments and the judge’s instructions to the jury will be next before 12 New Yorkers decide whether Trump will be found guilty or not guilty. But all this will not take place until after Memorial Day. This gives jurors time to reflect on what they saw and heard in court over the last month. It also allows the electorate to predict the trial’s outcome.

A new poll conducted by Rasmussen revealed a slight majority believe Trump will be found guilty. In a survey released on May 21, 53% say the jury will come back with a guilty verdict, including 22% who say this outcome is “very likely.” Another 31% say they expect the former president will be found innocent, with 11% asserting “a guilty verdict is Not At All Likely,” according to Rasmussen. Yet another 15% are fence-sitters, saying they are unsure what will happen.

Just because a majority of these likely voters believe this will be the outcome does not mean they think Trump has committed a crime. In fact, 52% say the case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is a “witch hunt,” echoing Trump’s often-used description of the legal action against him.

The Rasmussen survey aligns with a previous gauge of public opinion conducted by Suffolk University/USA Today pollsters, released on May 7. In that query of registered voters, 65% said they expect Trump to be found guilty. Of this, 50% believe the former president will be found guilty on “some” counts but not all. Only 15% said the jury would find him guilty on all counts.

Still, what voters believe will happen is not necessarily in line with what they think should happen. The Suffolk poll revealed, “More than four in ten voters (44%) said they don’t believe the trial so far has been fair, while 39% said Trump was getting a fair trial.” Another 16% couldn’t decide one way or another.

Trump Guilty of What?

This appears to be a gray area. The original charges brought forth by the Manhattan DA claimed it would prove Trump falsified more than 30 business records to hide a non-disclosure agreement negotiated with porn star Stormy Daniels – allegations that the former president has vehemently denied. However, legal scholars exhaustively opining on cable news outlets remain flummoxed about the criminality of these charges. Many of these expert opinions have fallen along party lines, but not all. On May 21, a CNN panel included legal scholars who argued that the prosecution had yet to provide evidence of the wrongdoing outlined in the charges — and these comments were made after the prosecution and defense rested. The Wall Street Journal editorial board went so far as to say the charges against the former president were “dubious” at best. But when you get down to it, media outlets and legal scholars won’t determine guilt or innocence.

A Butcher, a Baker, a Candlestick Maker?

Nearly 200 people were vetted for a spot on the Manhattan jury. The 12 seated jurors, along with six alternates, include an investment banker, a speech therapist, a retired wealth manager, and a young woman computer software engineer. A corporate attorney and a civil litigator also were chosen for the panel. This eclectic group claims to get their news from The New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, Fox, TikTok, Facebook, and Google. While this appears to be a diverse unit, it must be said that Manhattan is considered one of the most Democratic counties in the United States.

Still, the betting odds appear to be in Trump’s favor. This week, bettors on the Bookmakers Review were feeling optimistic. Only 35% are betting that the former president will be found guilty. Of course, all it takes is one jury member to say the prosecution did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. And so, this Memorial Day weekend, Americans gathering around the barbecue will have plenty to discuss – but most of it will be pure speculation.

Read More From Leesa K. Donner

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