Focus Group Reveals Guilty Verdict Looks Worse for Biden Than for Trump 

Halytskyi Olexandr /
Halytskyi Olexandr /

After almost ten years of failed attempts to convict former President Donald Trump on something – anything – it seems that at least one of the Democratic careful machinations has finally yielded fruit. Last week, Trump was found “guilty” on charges of falsely labeling a payment to an attorney as a “legal expense.” 

The media crowd went wild. Biden could hardly wait to use the verdict as a campaign tool. Democrats immediately accused Republican challengers of supporting a “convicted felon.” This was the culmination of a decade of politically charged legal maneuvers against Trump, and the left couldn’t wait to weaponize the verdict as completely as they had weaponized the law to get it.  

It was a joyous celebration cut short, however, as Trump’s campaign website crashed under the weight of donations flooding in within moments of the verdict. Over the following 24 hours, the Trump campaign had raised more than $53 million, bringing his May donations to $141 million. That amount was double April’s tally. 

Biden also enjoyed a boost from the guilty verdict, and although the tallies for his campaign have yet to be totaled for May, they are not expected to be anywhere close to Trump’s. Trump’s donations had exceeded Biden’s in April, with around $76 million tallied. Even more devastating than the amounts the Trump campaign has pulled in is that one-quarter of those donations were from first-time donors. There were around 2 million Trump donors in May, each giving an estimated $70. This means that Trump wasn’t just pulling in high-dollar donors; the average “man on the street” donors are coming out to support his campaign. 

It’s a nuance that the Biden campaign missed completely. Ammar Moussa, a spokesperson for Team Biden, claimed that “Trump’s billionaire friends are propping up the campaign of a white-collar crook” while appearing to miss the memo that these donations are from millions of average Americans. 

It would appear that Trump is enjoying increased financial support, but surely Americans have soured on him after a “guilty” verdict in the “trumped” up trial? 

Not so fast, according to Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster for the New York Times. Four hours after the guilty verdict, Luntz conducted a focus group with eleven undecided voters. Undecided voters are swing voters with no party loyalty and whose votes could sway the election. And if these voters’ feelings indicate the general sentiment among the swing voters, Biden’s plans have backfired spectacularly. 

The conversation highlighted that Trump’s potential felony conviction doesn’t guarantee support for Biden. While many of Trump’s supporters remain unmoved by his legal issues, undecided voters showed varied reactions. Some saw Trump’s conviction as disqualifying, while others viewed Biden negatively for his response to the verdict. For instance, John, a 58-year-old voter from Pennsylvania, felt Biden appeared weak and ungracious, making him ineligible for support. Similarly, Jorge, a 52-year-old voter from California, believed Biden was involved in the situation and suggested it was a ploy to influence voters and secure his election victory. Neshunda, a 36-year-old Black voter from Florida, was a little less committed than the first two, but she appeared troubled by the idea that the trial was politically motivated. She found it unsettling that the trial was happening so close to the elections and felt the timing was questionable. 

While no one believed that the verdict increased their trust in the legal system, four people said it decreased it significantly. 

The focus group revealed that even individuals who are not strong Trump supporters recognize his appeal, particularly his disregard for traditional norms. Jonathan, a 38-year-old Black voter from Florida, pointed out that Trump’s attraction lies in his disruptive nature. He described Trump as an antihero, likening him to characters from popular TV shows like “The Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad” who engage in morally questionable actions but are admired for their defiance against the system. In Trump’s case, they admit that his defiance is for the “sake of the people.” 

The economy was the primary concern for focus group participants, with seven listing it as the most critical issue for their vote and many specifically mentioning inflation-related worries. This aligns with broader polling indicating that the economy will remain a key factor for voters this year.  

In contrast, only one participant mentioned concern about “harm to our democratic republic” as a top issue, an issue that Biden hammers home with nauseating frequency. While left-leaning media often focuses on Trump’s “potential authoritarianism,” politically disengaged voters may not share this fear.  

The small focus group hints at the repercussions of the left’s lawfare strategy on the upcoming election. For the valuable swing voter, it was a blatant attempt to remove political opposition, and an unsuccessful one at that.