Trump verdict: Parties’ hyperbole ignores U.S. voters

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, June 5, 2024

By Sid Salter
The 34 guilty verdicts in the New York state court trial of former President Donald
Trump on felony charges of falsifying business records of alleged “hush money”
payments to an adult film actress as part of a scheme to influence the 2016 election has
opened the floodgates on a river of partisan political hyperbole from both sides of the
Republicans, even former prosecutors who spent their careers defending the American
jury trial system, are now decrying the Trump verdict as the result of a “rigged” trial that
evolved out of a “weaponization” of the judicial system by Democrats. GOP voices also
say the verdict virtually guarantees Trump’s victory in November as voters reject felony
Democrats, even some who defended former President Bill Clinton during the Monica
Lewinsky episode, defend the New York state judicial system, the narrow legal theory
that raised Trump's crimes to felonies, and reject the notion that the convictions in any
way enhance Trump’s electability in November.
Partisans on both sides argue passionately that the Trump verdicts will sway the
outcome of the 2024 presidential election. With the stark division of the country over the
2024 election between President Joe Biden and Trump, some in these increasingly
hysterical rants are talking in terms of the possibility of public unrest rising to violence
up to and including civil war.
Those breathless reactions ignore some basic facts about the behavior of the American
electorate. The most basic relevant point is that in the last presidential election in 2020
between Biden and Trump, one-third of eligible U.S. voters did not vote – yes, and that
voter turnout was at a historic high.
The Census reported that in 2020, 159,633,396 Americans voted in the presidential
election, the largest vote total in U.S. history. It was the highest voter turnout as a
percentage of the voting-eligible population in 120 years at 66.7%.
The Stormy Daniels revelations broke in 2018 in The Wall Street Journal, a fact that
tends to get lost in the partisan post-trial play-by-play. In the 2020 election, Biden won
81.2 million votes or 51.3 percent of the popular vote to Trump’s 74.2 million votes or

The Electoral College vote ultimately was 306 for Biden and 232 for Trump. Trump and
his supporters disputed both popular vote and electoral vote outcomes. Biden took
office on Jan. 20, 2021. Trump did not attend Biden’s inauguration.
So, what next? In 2024, the division in the country suggests that there will be another
high voter turnout. But in March, the Pew Research Center reported that 26% of
Americans have negative views of both Trump and Biden.
The Pew numbers showed 37 percent with favorable views of Trump, 34 percent with
favorable views of Biden, and 26 percent with unfavorable views of both Trump and
The notion that Trump’s felony convictions and civil case loss coupled with his pending
legal challenges are enough in and of themselves to sway the outcome of the 2024
election is ludicrous.
Voter participation in presidential elections was below 50 percent in the 1920s then
climbed to around 60 percent during the Korean Conflict and stayed in that range until
Watergate in the 1970s when voting dropped precipitously. The percentages didn’t get
back to above 60 percent until 2004.
Since the 1920s, economic cataclysm, world wars, and profound episodes of
government corruption made voting numbers rise and fall, yet victory in 2024 for both
candidates lies at the incremental margins, the extremes and the fringes.
Where we are is that a third of eligible U.S. voters don’t care whether Trump or Biden is
president and a fourth of Americans don’t want either of them in the Oval Office.
Politicians on both sides may not like those numbers, but they reflect our current
national reality.
The outcome of the 2024 election rides not on the actions in a Manhattan courtroom,
but on which candidate, which party and which strategy can sway the apathetic, the
disaffected and those who have lost all confidence in government to their cause.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at

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