Minnesota poll: Majority of voters think Trump got a fair trial, felony conviction is disqualifying

Briana Bierschbach, Star Tribune on

Published in Political News

MINNEAPOLIS — A majority of Minnesota voters thinks former President Donald Trump's New York trial, which led to a conviction for falsifying business records to conceal a hush money payment, was a fair proceeding and that a person convicted of a felony should not be eligible for the presidency.

But voters' views of the trial are starkly split along partisan lines, mirroring a deep national political divide over the conviction five months ahead of the November election.

The Star Tribune/MPR News/KARE 11 Minnesota Poll found 54% of voters thought the five-week trial was impartial while 44% said Trump did not receive a fair trial. The poll's findings are based on interviews with 800 likely Minnesota voters conducted June 3-5. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Trump was found guilty on all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to hide a $130,000 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election, a verdict he's vowed to appeal.

Asked if someone convicted of a felony should be eligible for the presidency, 55% of respondents said no. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said a convicted felon should still be eligible to be president, while 8% were not sure.

Nick Liguori, a 33-year-old equipment salesman who was interviewed for the poll, said electing a president with a felony conviction would taint the United States' image before the rest of the world.

"Republicans say they're the party of law and order, but once the tides turn they are not the party of law and order. It shows their [hypocrisy]," said Liguori, who lives in Eagan.

"There are unfair trials and people are found guilty unfairly. Did that happen in this case? Probably not," he added. "If you're found guilty, it doesn't matter what people think, you are a criminal now."

Women and voters living in Hennepin and Ramsey counties were much more likely to believe the trial was fair and that someone with a felony conviction should not be eligible for the presidency. A narrow majority of independent voters agreed.

A majority of voters living outside Hennepin and Ramsey counties did not think Trump's trial was fair. Dave Ainley, a Republican voter who lives in Eden Prairie, said Trump was never going to get a fair trial in heavily Democratic New York, and thinks the judge in the case was "blatantly biased" against the former president.

More than 90% of Republican poll respondents agreed that the trial was not fair or impartial.

"I think there's going to be an appeal and the whole thing will be thrown out," said Ainley, a 61-year-old IT equipment salesman. "It's a very Democratic state so how could he possibly win when it's so politically charged? If it wasn't Trump, nobody would be talking about this."


Ainley was also among one in four poll respondents who didn't believe Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 presidential election, similar to the results when the same question was asked in a September 2021 Minnesota Poll. He said there's "too much room for error" in the current election system, and that's left questions in voters' minds.

But fewer people are unsure about the legitimacy of the election now than they were three years ago, with 69% of respondents saying they believe the 2020 election result was legitimate and 6% unsure. In 2021, 14% of respondents said they were unsure if Biden legitimately won the election.

All Democrats interviewed for the poll said the 2020 election was legitimate, while 31% of Republicans said the same.

"Unless you are on conspiracy theory websites all day, I don't know why it wouldn't be seen as legitimate," said Liguori of Eagan, who added that numerous court battles and recounts in the weeks and months after the election only solidified Biden's win.

A slim majority of respondents said both political parties' presumptive presidential nominees are too old, while 20% said neither is too old. Asked about individual candidates, a quarter of respondents thought Biden, 81, is too old, while 2% said the same thing about Trump, who turns 78 this week.

White voters, those 65 and older, as well as men and those without a college degree, were more likely to think that Biden is too old to be president.

"We probably need someone who grew up in a little bit more modern times," said Daniel Winkelman, a 28-year-old union carpenter who said both candidates are too old. "We're always electing these ... people who grew up in a completely different time and don't relate to what's really going on."

Winkelman, who lives in Rice in central Minnesota, said neither candidate can relate to the issues facing a younger generation of voters. While he leans conservative, he's willing to vote for whichever candidate makes the most sense to him.

He said he's inclined to vote for Trump this fall, but if the former president were convicted of a more serious crime, that could change his stance. The fact that Trump already served one term as president is also a factor for him.

"It depends what the crime is," Winkelman said. "He was the president before, and from what I'm aware, things went well. If he had never been president before, maybe that would change things."


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