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With Trump’s trial underway, most Americans now believe he falsified records to conceal hush money payments

For the first time, a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll finds that a majority of Americans (52%) believe former President Donald Trump “falsified company records to conceal a hush money payment to a porn star” – the center charges of his ongoing criminal trial in Manhattan.

This represents a new high — and a significant increase from previous Yahoo News/YouGov polls conducted last month before courtroom testimony began, suggesting that coverage of the trial may be changing perceptions of Trump’s behavior change.

If the jury agrees, Trump could become the first former US president convicted of a crime.

In contrast, only 22% of Americans say Trump didn’t falsifying business records to conceal a hush money payment to a porn star.

The new survey of 1,794 American adults, conducted May 10 to 13, also shows a decline in the former president’s favorable rating — from 45% in March to 41% today.

Before the 2016 election, Trump’s then-attorney Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to prevent adult film actress Stormy Daniels from going public with her story about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump. Cohen has testified that Trump ordered him to pay Daniels and then signed a roundabout compensation settlement.

Prosecutors have charged Trump — who has categorized his payments to Cohen as legal fees — with 34 counts of falsifying company records to conceal criminal activity.

The latest figures show increasing acceptance of the prosecution’s case against Trump.

Americans now approve of the hush money lawsuit by a 12-point margin (49% to 37%); in April that margin was 7 points (43% to 36%). The share of Americans who think Trump has indeed falsified business data has risen 4 points since last month and 7 points since March 2023. The shares of that group who think Trump committed a crime (47%) and who say the crime is serious enough to warrant charges and a trial (40%) are also higher than ever before.

The same goes for the number of Americans who believe the claims of key witnesses WHERE is much higher than the number who believe they are false:

● “Donald Trump and porn star Stormy Daniels had sex at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in 2006”: 45% true, 14% false, 41% unsure.

● “The publisher of the National Enquirer made a deal with Donald Trump to buy and bury negative stories about Trump”: 43% true, 17% false, 40% not sure.

● “The main reason Trump wanted the National Enquirer to buy and bury negative stories about him was to protect his 2016 presidential campaign”: 50% true, 18% false, 32% not sure.

The point about Trump’s motivation is particularly important. Trump has denied having sex with Daniels and claimed any payments were simply to protect his family. Prosecutors have argued that the payments were criminal because they were political in nature.

As for what comes next, a majority of Americans now say they would more likely approve (51%) than disapprove (36%) if Trump is sentenced to prison if found guilty. (The charges against him are punishable by up to four years in prison.) When asked whether the judge should jail Trump for further violations of his gag order — the court has already fined him for verbally assaulting jurors — most Americans say yes (54%) instead of none (31%).

Could a conviction have political consequences for Trump? Possibly. In a head-to-head matchup, Trump (45%) and President Biden (45%) remain tied among registered voters, just as they were last month.

But when voters are asked which candidate they would vote for “if Trump is convicted of a serious crime in the coming months,” only 39% say the former president — while Biden’s support rises 1 point to 46% in that scenario . he has a lead of 7 points.

None of this means that a hush-money conviction would doom Trump on Election Day. First, the belief that Trump falsified corporate data has increased more among Democrats (+8, from 80% to 88%) than among Republicans (+3, from 13% to 16%)—a partisan pattern echoed in the latest Yahoo reports from Yahoo. News/YouGov Survey.

Furthermore, few Americans (16%) report that they follow the hush money process very closely, and only about half (48%) say they follow it very or somewhat closely. These numbers are among the lowest for any recent news event. And independents – the voters most likely to influence the election in some way – pay less attention to that than anyone else (only 13% are following the election very closely and only 41% are following the election very closely or somewhat carefully).

Overall, more Americans say they are “bored” (31%) than “interested” (26%) by the process – while 16% say they are “confused” and just 6% say they are “excited.”

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The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,794 U.S. adults who were interviewed online from May 10 to 13, 2024. The sample was weighted by gender, age, race, education, election turnout of 2020 and presidential elections, grassroots party. identification and current voter registration status. The demographic weighting targets are from the 2019 American Community Survey. The base party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer, given before November 1, 2022, and is weighted by the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 27% Republican ). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.7%.