Trump hush money charges seen as serious by most voters, Reuters/Ipsos finds

By Thomson Reuters Apr 10, 2024 | 9:22 AM

By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The New York criminal charges against Donald Trump for allegedly covering up hush-money payments to a porn star are serious in the eyes of a firm majority of U.S. voters, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found ahead of the former president’s trial starting next week.

Some 64% of registered voters in the five-day poll, which closed on Monday, described the charges as at least “somewhat serious,” compared to 34% who said the charges lacked seriousness. The rest were unsure or didn’t answer.

The trial, due to begin this coming Monday, is the first of four criminal prosecutions of Trump, the Republican challenger to Democratic President Joe Biden in a November election.

Legal experts have signaled that the other three cases – which involve charges Trump engaged in electoral fraud or mishandled classified documents – are considerably more serious than the alleged hush money payments.

But Reuters/Ipsos polling showed that any criminal conviction could take a heavy toll on Trump, who is locked in a tight race with Biden. Trump is the first current or former U.S. president to face criminal prosecution.

Roughly four in 10 Republican respondents considered the hush money charges to be serious, as did two-thirds of independents.

New York prosecutors charge that Trump covered up his former lawyer Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, in exchange for her silence before the 2016 presidential election about a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump a decade earlier. Trump denies that the encounter took place and has pleaded not guilty.

Close to a third of Republicans – and close to two-thirds of independents – in the poll said it was believable that Trump falsified business records and committed fraud. Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsification of business records; he is not specifically charged with fraud, which is a different charge under New York law.

Voters appear to consider the charges Trump faces in other pending trials as more serious. Some 74% of the registered voters surveyed said the charges of election fraud were serious.

Trump has tried to delay all four trials. On Monday, however, a New York state appellate judge rejected his request to delay the hush money trial.

Some 60% of registered voters in the poll said they agreed with a statement that Trump’s criminal trials should take place before the Nov. 5 election.


Trump’s lawyers are seeking to dismiss federal charges that he tried to overturn his 2020 election loss, on the grounds that he should have immunity over actions he took as president. The Supreme Court, which includes three justices appointed by Trump, is due to hear those arguments on April 25.

Poll respondents took a dim view of this claim, with only 27% of registered voters saying they agree with Trump’s argument that presidents should have immunity unless they have first been impeached and convicted by Congress.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in all four cases and argues they were orchestrated by his political enemies. Many Republicans share that view, with roughly four out of five in the poll agreeing with a statement that the prosecutions are “excessive and politically motivated.”

At the same time, about a quarter of Republican respondents to the poll said they would not vote for Trump if he were convicted of a felony crime by a jury. Trump’s legal problems also threaten his personal finances, with a judge in a civil trial ordering him in February to pay $454 million after being found liable for manipulating his net worth.

About three quarters of registered voters in the Reuters/Ipsos poll said having a president in office with such heavy legal obligations would be “risky.”

The Reuters/Ipsos poll surveyed 1,021 U.S. adults, including 833 registered voters, in a nationwide survey conducted online from April 4-8. It had a margin of error of about 3 percentage points for all respondents and 4 points for registered voters.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller)