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Voters say they won’t support Trump in swing states if he’s convicted

President Joe Biden faces his own issues heading into a 2024 general election rematch with Donald Trump, but the former president’s criminal trials may very well spell his second political downfall, according to a new survey.

A Bloomberg/Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday gave the clearest picture yet of the dangers Mr Trump faces in the general election: More than half, 53 per cent, of all registered voters in swing states across the US would decline to support him were he to be convicted of one or more of the 91 felony counts he now faces in four jurisdictions. That figure climbs even higher when voters were asked about the possibility of Mr Trump being sent to prison.

His problems are multiplied by the fact that this deficit of support would, according to the survey, extend to his own base of Republican voters should a conviction occur. Twenty-three per cent of all Republican voters in swing states said that they would decline to support Mr Trump if he were convicted.

It’s the exact nightmare scenario for Republicans that Nikki Haley has attempted to warn voters about following her assumption of the role of Mr Trump’s chief rival for the Republican nomination. Ms Haley, who is now the only prominent Republican besides Mr Trump remaining in the race, has thus far failed to convince a majority of Republican voters to back her candidacy with the argument that her rival is unelectable. This latest poll may sharpen that assertion, though it remains unclear if GOP voters care — even when the threat of low Republican turnout on down-ballot races is raised.

Ms Haley and other Republicans desperately seeking an alternative to the former president have argued that Mr Trump no longer represents a real driving force at the ballot box beyond his ability to motivate Democratic voters to turn out in opposition; that particular argument grew much louder after a resoundingly disappointing performance for the GOP in the 2022 midterm elections, where the party lost ground in the Senate and eked out a victory in the House which has since decayed to a single-digit majority.

The incumbent president has no reason to take things easy, however; the Bloomberg/Morning Consult survey also showed that Americans by and large remain pessimistic about the economy and apparently distrustful of the measurements by which the Biden administration has used to tout the supposed success of “Bidenomics”. A wide majority of voters — 71 per cent to 29 per cent — say the economy is headed in the wrong direction at the national level specifically; those numbers drop but remain underwater when focused on the state level and turn positive when voters are asked about their local town or neighbourhood.

Mr Biden’s personal popularity also remains in the negatives, as does the popularity of his running mate, Vice President Kamala Harris. Less than four in 10 voters have favourable opinions of either politician. 46 per cent of voters, by comparison, had at least a somewhat favourable view of Mr Trump, who importantly also had the highest “very unfavourable” rating of any individual politician named in the poll — by far.

Overall, voters remain torn: They are widely unhappy with their choices for 2024, and seemingly unimpressed with the alternatives. What that will mean for voter turnout and down-ballot races is unclear, but both parties clearly have reasons to worry about the latter in this survey.

The Bloomberg/Morning Consult poll sureyed 4,956 registered voters across Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin between 16 to 22 January. The margin of error is 1 percentage point for the full sample of voters.