The hush-money trial has yet to change minds on Trump's guilt

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
May 09, 2024, 8:22 PM GMT+0

An increasing number of Americans — and, in particular, Republicans — are paying attention to Donald Trump's ongoing trial. Trump is facing 34 charges, including for falsifying business records to reimburse his lawyer for payments made to an adult film actress. One month ago, polling by the Economist/YouGov found that Democrats were 16 percentage points more likely than Republicans to say they'd heard a lot about the case. Since then, the share of Republicans who are paying close attention to it has risen 14 points, making them about as likely as Democrats to say they've heard a lot.

Views on the seriousness of the case have not shifted in the past month among either Democrats or Republicans. 56% of Americans believe the hush-money case against Trump is very or somewhat serious, similar to the share who said so just before the trial began — as well as the share who thought so eight months ago when the question was first asked on a separate YouGov survey. Nine in 10 Democrats but just one in four Republicans believe the case is serious.

There is significant uncertainty regarding the outcome of the trial: 44% of Americans are unsure whether Trump will be convicted. 22% think he will be and 34% think he won't. This is similar to where opinions stood just before the trial began. One in three Democrats now expect a conviction, while half as many Republicans and Independents do.

Twice as many Americans believe Trump should be convicted (45%) in his hush-money trial as think he will be (22%). Eight in 10 Democrats are in favor of a conviction, compared to 42% of Independents and just 6% of Republicans.

Since the hush-money trial began, Donald Trump has been held in contempt of court — and issued $10,000 in fines — for repeatedly violating a gag order barring him from talking about witnesses. Most Americans (78%) have heard at least a little about Trump's violation of the gag order, including 86% of Democrats and 78% of Republicans.

By 51% to 34%, Americans say it would be appropriate for Trump to be punished with jail time if he continues to violate the gag order — a possibility raised by the judge in the case. 85% of Democrats say jail time would be appropriate, compared to just 13% of Republicans.

The hush money trial is important to many Americans, but perhaps not as important as the charges Trump is facing in other criminal cases. Another YouGov poll conducted in early April found that of the charges in the four criminal cases Trump has been indicted for, the hush-money charges were ranked by most people as the least important. Also, fewer considered the hush-money charges to be very serious compared to the charges in the other three cases. However, just as many said they believed he both should and would be convicted in the hush-money case as said so about the other cases.

— Carl Bialik contributed to this article

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on May 5 - 7, 2024 among 1,813 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty