News that former President Donald Trump was found guilty of 34 felonies for concealing hush money payments to a porn star have only hardened opinions of the 45th president, strengthening the resolve of his devout followers and opponents alike.

But the impact of the jury’s verdict on the smaller number of undecided voters remains to be seen and could decide the outcome of the November vote, in Maine and nationwide.

“It’s too early for us to tell exactly what outcomes to expect,” said Ronald Schmidt, a political science professor and chair of the University of Southern Maine’s political science department. “It’s just a long time between now and the election when it comes to questions of public opinion.”

Polling, though only a snapshot in time and not predictive, suggests that many voters already have made up their minds about who they’re voting for in the presidential election this fall. But some surveys suggest that the guilty verdict could compel some people to change their minds. A Quinnipiac University poll in May, for example, found that 6% of Trump supporters would be less likely to stick with him if convicted.

No recent public polling has been conducted in Maine. But a fall “Critical Insights on Maine” poll by Digital Research Inc. found that 19% of respondents said they were undecided, while 39% were “very dissatisfied” with the choice between Trump and President Biden.

The University of New Hampshire Survey Center conducted polling this month in New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. In New Hampshire, only 8% of respondents said they were undecided, with 39% saying a guilty verdict in the hush money trial would have no impact on their decision, 37% saying it would make them less likely to vote for Trump and 23% saying it would make them more likely to vote for him.


National polling suggests undecided voters account for 2% to 5% of the electorate, potentially enough to determine the outcome in an extremely close election.

Nicholas Jacobs, an assistant government professor at Colby College, said he’s conflicted about whether the first felony conviction of a former U.S. president will have any impact on undecided voters.

Jacobs pointed to a national Marist/NPR poll in April that found most Americans, including 57% of independents, weren’t following the hush money trial very closely, and about half of independents said they believe the Trump inquiries were “unfair investigations.”

“Part of me thinks it’s so unprecedented that it will make a difference, even we don’t have solid data or experience to know just how it will. Part of me thinks it won’t,” Jacobs said. “Voters are complex. They justify things in their own way. General dissatisfaction is rampant among those who will decide the election and that is not something most of us who follow politics closely (or read news articles on politics) necessarily feel.”

The potential impact in Maine is even more complicated.



Maine is one of two states that splits its electoral votes. One electoral vote is awarded to the winner of each of the state’s two congressional districts and two are awarded to the statewide winner.

In 2020, Biden won three electoral college votes, while Trump picked up one by winning the more conservative and rural 2nd Congressional District.

While the number of persuadable voters may be small, Schmidt said they could make a big difference in the November election.

“We have had some incredibly narrow margins of victory, so small numbers actually can be incredibly decisive,” he said.

Schmidt said other factors relating to the trial, including Trump’s sentencing, could further motivate supporters of each candidate to turn out in the fall. It gives Trump a way to continue to connect with his base over a variety of grievances, he said, while heated rhetoric about the verdict and backlash against the justice system or the jurors could push young Democrats disillusioned over the Israel-Hamas war back into Biden’s corner.

“Turnout is always a big deal,” he said.

Phil Harriman, a former Republican lawmaker and Maine political analyst, said Trump’s $35 million fundraising haul within hours of the guilty verdict shows how the verdict has energized his base. He thinks that persuadable independent voters will be forced to weigh their opinions about Trump’s behavior and character with what he believes are legitimate judicial and constitutional concerns.

“Those will be the people who will be the most influential in this election,” Harriman said. “I really don’t have accurate insight about which way that falls (on balance).”

He added, “This is not going to be pleasant for our country to go through, but we’re in one of the more trying times of our country and what does the Constitution actually mean at the end of the day. We’re about to find out.”

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