Despite history-making felony conviction, Donald Trump still leads Joe Biden in Georgia

Just days after former President Donald Trump made history — of the infamous sort — as the first former President to ever become a convicted felon, Georgia voters remain undeterred in their support for the presumptive Republican nominee.

A Quinnipiac University poll out this week shows Trump with an edge over incumbent Democratic President Joe Biden at 49% to 44% in a head-to-head matchup, an important distinction considering the potential spoiler effect from independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and others.

When including Kennedy and third-party candidates — including Libertarian Chase Oliver, independent Cornel West and Green Party candidate Jill Stein — Trump’s support shrinks to just 43%. But his margin over Biden grows to 6 percentage points, with the current President’s support plummeting to just 37%.

“Trump takes a narrow lead in the head-to-head horse race against Biden,” said Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy. “Put four other ‘horses’ on the track, including the new Libertarian candidate, and he inches further ahead.”

Trump’s lead comes despite Trump being found guilty by a jury of his peers on 34 counts related to falsifying business records after a hush money payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels, and despite half of voters agreeing with the verdict.

Among all voters polled, half agree with the verdict, while 44% disagree. But that sentiment falls largely along partisan lines, with 96% of Democrats agreeing with the verdict compared to just 10% of Republicans who think Trump was correctly found guilty. Among independent voters, 52% agree with the verdict while 42% disagree.

“In a key state that went for Biden in 2020, half of voters agree with the guilty verdict that made Trump the first President to be convicted of a felony, but Trump still has the advantage in the 2024 race,” Malloy said.

Trump’s continued support may come because voters largely are unmoved by the guilty verdict, even if they agree with it. Only 22% of respondents said the verdict makes them less likely to vote for Trump, while 23% said it makes them more likely to vote for him. Another 54% say it makes no difference at all to their vote.

Further, independents are also unmoved — a demographic that will be key for Biden winning the crucial swing state. Among those voters, only 18% said they were less likely to vote for Trump after the guilty verdict while 21% said it made them more likely and 61% said it made no difference at all.

Voters were also asked to weigh in on the now-delayed 2020 election interference case involving Trump and several allies accused of trying to overturn the election results four years ago when Trump lost to Biden — a loss Trump and many of his supporters continue to deny despite no credible evidence to the contrary.

Only 4 in 10 voters believe Trump did something illegal in that case, though another 19% believe he was unethical even if not lawless. Another 35% believe he did nothing wrong.

Independents are more convinced Trump interfered in the election, with 43% believing he broke the law and 25% saying his actions were unethical, but not illegal. Only 29% believe the former President did nothing wrong.

On the issues, Georgia voters overwhelmingly trust Trump on those they find most important. On the economy, the issue respondents find top-of-mind, 58% of respondents said they trusted Trump the most to handle the issue, while only 38% trust Biden.

Preserving democracy was the second most important issue among voters. Even there, Trump bests Biden in voter support, with 49% trusting Trump on the issue and only 46% trusting Biden. That is likely frustrating to Democratic operatives in the state and elsewhere as they continue to campaign on protecting democracy after Trump’s alleged incitement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

Immigration was the third most important issue to voters and, unsurprisingly given it’s a top campaign talking point within the GOP, Trump commands the most faith there with 56% trusting him on the issue and only 39% trusting Biden.

Trump’s support may also come down to voters’ negative perceptions of Biden. The current President is underwater among Georgia voters, with just 36% approving of his job performance compared to a staggering 60% who disapprove. That stands in stark contrast to Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who enjoys a 55% approval rating.

Biden’s upside-down job approval rating in the Peach State appears unrelated to his political party though. The state’s U.S. Senators — both Democrats — each have a positive approval rating. U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock has a 48% approval rating, compared to just 38% disapproval. U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff has a 47% approval and 32% disapproval.

The poll was taken May 30 to June 3 among 1,203 self-identified Georgia voters. It has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. In early 2022, she left the business to serve as Communications Director for St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch. After leaving the administration, Janelle briefly worked as a communications consultant for candidates, businesses and non-profits, before accepting her position as Publisher for Southeast Politics, a homecoming of sorts to her Florida Politics roots, where she served as a reporter and editor for several years. Janelle has also held roles covering the intersection of politics and business for the Tampa Bay Business Journal and general assignment news with an emphasis on social justice and climate change for WMNF Community Radio, where she also hosted a political call-in show under several names, including Last Call, Midpoint and The Scoop. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]

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