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Undaunted and Unbowed, Trump Responds to Conviction

He calls the loss in court "a badge of honor."

The decision by a New York jury to convict former President Donald Trump of 34 felony charges may have rocked his supporters, brought jubilation to his detractors, and caused a collective gasp from the rest of the world. However, the man himself still appears to be stoically marching ahead in his quest for re-election as president of the United States.

Appearing at Trump Tower in Manhattan yesterday, May 31, the 45th president channeled Friedrich Nietzsche’s adage: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” In framing the court case against him, Trump asserted: “I’m doing something for our Constitution. It’s very important, far beyond me. And this can’t be allowed to happen to other presidents.”

Many conservatives reacted with surprise at the swift, decisive verdict, but Mr. Trump appeared to take it in stride, almost as if he expected the jury to return with a conviction. Always the unconventional candidate, early reports are that being found guilty may be helping his quest for that elusive second term. The Daily Mail characterized it this way: “Teflon Don rides again,” noting a six-point increase in his approval ratings in a snap poll conducted by the UK news outlet. This survey of voters after the conviction provides a quick take on the pulse of the people regarding a particular event. The newspaper found that of the 403 likely voters queried, “22 percent said they now had a more favorable rating [of Trump] compared with 16 percent who said they viewed him more negatively.”

Immediately following the verdict’s reading, people flocked to Mr. Trump’s WinRed donation website – but so many came so fast that the site crashed. Within just 24 hours of Trump’s conviction, the campaign reported raising almost $53 million. Surely this is dispiriting to those who detest 45 and are rejoicing in his historic criminal felony conviction.

Trump Verdict: On the Other Hand

Yet another snap poll by YouGov conducted on the same day as the verdict shows that 50% of the people think Trump is guilty, but another 30% believe him to be innocent. Nineteen percent were unsure. The YouGov poll surveyed over 3,000 US adults.

Political analysts maintain that snap polls should be taken with a grain of salt because of the election timeline. One school of thought is that this verdict might have come too early to do lasting damage to the Trump campaign. Debates have yet to be held, conventions are still ahead, and while Mr. Biden has a declared running mate, Mr. Trump has not. Then there’s the sentencing, which is supposed to occur just four days before the Republican National Convention. All of these events will factor into where the candidates stand in November.

Democratic pollster Mark Mellman is one of those who believe the outcome of this court case ultimately won’t move the needle one way or another: “If I were betting, I’d bet on no impact — or on a flutter in the polls, followed by a return to the status quo,” he told the Los Angeles Times. His opinion was backed up by an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll just released, which found that 67% of registered voters say a guilty verdict would not change their vote.

While the hard right and left have made their decisions, this election, like most, will come down to those in the middle. The NPR poll asked: “If Donald Trump is found guilty in the hush money trial in New York, are you” more or less likely to vote for him? Fifteen percent of independents said they were more likely to vote for him, 11% said less likely, and 74% said it would make no difference.

Adding It All Up

So when you boil it all down – recognizing that these are early days in the verdict – no big flashing red light indicates that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s conviction of Trump will signal a fundamental change in the presidential election. He may rejoice over winning the battle, but the war still looms.

Plutarch wrote in 279 BC that, after having just beaten the Roman army, Greek King Pyrrhus feared what the future would hold. “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined,” he is believed to have lamented. So significant were his losses that, despite winning the battle, the Greek king was destined to lose the greater war. Will Donald Trump’s conviction turn into a Pyrrhic victory? Trump maintains that the actual verdict will be on November 5, something all Americans can agree on.

Read More From Leesa K. Donner

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