What the Trump Verdict Means for the 2024 Presidential Election

By Brendan Scanland

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last Thursday, former President Donald Trump was found guilty by a New York jury on all 34 counts in his criminal hush money trial. 

The $130,000 hush money payment to adult film star, Stormy Daniels, came in the final weeks of the 2016 Presidential Race. Prosecutors argued it was an effort to interfere in the 2016 Election. 

Trump is the first president in U.S. history to be convicted of felony crimes. It’s possible he could also become the first convicted felon elected President of the United States. 

The conviction in New York State will not bar Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, from his pursuit of the White House. While states like New York and Florida prevent felons from holding elected positions, the U.S. Constitution does not disqualify someone convicted of a crime from seeking the Presidency.  

“There’s no federal disqualification for convicted felons running for federal offices, including President of the United States,” said Casey Burgat, an assistant professor and Legislative Affairs Program director at George Washington University. “Certain states have limitations on convicted felons, not only for running for office, but even voting in elections. We have an instance here where we can have a major nominee in the state of Florida, which we do in former President Trump, who may not be able to vote in his own election,” Burgat added. 

Whether the conviction will hurt or help Trump might not become clear until November. Within 24 hours after the verdict, Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party raised $52.8 million. At one point, the campaign site crashed because of so much additional volume. 

According to the campaign, the funds came mostly from small-dollar donors, including 30% who were new contributors. 

Burgat says there’s a pattern of increased support and contributions for the former president, mostly among his base, following key moments in his ongoing legal challenges. 

“It’s not surprising that we see these bumps because they’re activated, partisan, supportive voters of the former president,” said Burgat. “He’s turning to his base saying, ‘I’ve been warning you about this, this is now being carried out on our watch and the only way we can stop it is if you all fund my campaign.’ All of this stuff resonates with his base,” he added. 

Money from Trump’s base is one thing, but winning over Independent and undecided voters in November is another. Burgat said the conviction might give pause to undecided voters, who are still on the fence.  

“In terms of reaching out across to Independents, to say anything of Democrats out there, this does nothing to help,” said Burgat. “But it may lead to a reinvigoration of the folks who were already going to support him in the first place,” Burgat added.  

Trump’s sentencing hearing is set for July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, WI., where he is expected to officially become the Republican Presidential nominee. 

Trump and his legal team indicated they will appeal the conviction. Burgat said the appeal process will be long, lasting months or even years. 

“This is a long, lengthy process that will not match our political calendars. The judicial system runs on its own calendars. There’re a lot of levels to go through to ultimately get a final resolution, if one at all,” said Burgat. “It is going to take a long time.”