Majority believe prosecution of Donald Trump upheld rule of law, not motivated by politics

About one in ten Republicans say they will not vote for Trump with a felony conviction

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Annaleise Azevedo Lohr Director, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, May 31, 2024 – The latest survey from Reuters/Ipsos, which began fielding following the announcement of a guilty verdict in the New York criminal trial against Donald Trump regarding hush money payments, shows that a majority of Americans believe the prosecution was about upholding the rule of law and not politically motivated. Donald Trump and Joe Biden remain locked in a close race for the 2024 presidential election. Following the conviction, a small, but not insignificant number, of Republicans say they will not vote for Trump with a felony conviction. One in five Americans say the recently concluded trial of Donald Trump has positively impacted their view of the American criminal justice system, while a quarter say it has negatively impacted their perceptions. 

Detailed Findings:

Among registered voters, Donald Trump (39%) and Joe Biden (41%) are statistically tied if the election for president were held today. Following the announcement of a guilty verdict in Donald Trump's criminal trial, 54% of registered voters say they would not vote for Donald Trump if he is convicted of a crime, a six point drop from April of this year (60%), ahead of the start of the trial. This drop is driven entirely by Republicans; in April,  24% of Republicans said they would not vote for Donald Trump if he were to be convicted of a felony crime by a jury. However,  following yesterday's guilty verdict, only 14% say they would now not vote for him. 



Impact of conviction


About 52% of Americans say that New York's prosecution of Donald Trump on charges of criminally covering up a hush money payment during the final days of his 2016 presidential campaign was mainly about enforcing laws fairly and upholding the rule of law. While 45% say the prosecution was mainly a politically motivated attempt to prevent Trump from returning to the White House. Perceptions of this are driven almost entirely by partisanship, with Democrats believing it was about upholding the rule of law (89%) and Republicans believing it was politically motivated (87%). Independents are split, with 54% saying it was about upholding the rule of law, while 44% say it is politically motivated. Perhaps not surprisingly, 60% of Republicans say the trial has had a negative impact on their perception of the American criminal justice system, compared to just 6% of Democrats and 25% of independents. Just under half of Democrats say it positively impacted their perception of the justice system, while 45% of independents said it had no impact on their perceptions. 

rule of lawimpact on perception of criminal justice system


To see the full list of questions and responses, please download the topline below. 


About the Study

This Ipsos poll was conducted May 30-31, 2024 on behalf of Reuters using the KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a representative sample of 2,556 U.S. residents, age 18 or older.

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.18 for all adults. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.

The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households invited to join the panel are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in the sampled households are invited to join and participate in the panel. Those selected who do not already have internet access are provided a tablet and internet connection at no cost to the panel member. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methodologies, samples from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.

The study was conducted in English. The data for the total sample were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, and household income. Party ID benchmarks are from the 2023 NPORS annual survey. The demographic benchmarks came from the 2023 March Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS).

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson 
Senior Vice President, U.S. 
Public Affairs 
[email protected]

Annaleise Azevedo Lohr 
Director, U.S. 
Public Affairs
[email protected]

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The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Annaleise Azevedo Lohr Director, US, Public Affairs