September 23, 2023

Former President Donald Trump now faces 78 felony charges across three criminal cases. A fourth indictment could come any day. 

They bring a very real possibility of prison time and the prospect of the Republican nominee for president campaigning from a cell.

But that does not diminish the appeal of Trump to his base. 

A new poll for DailyMail.com found that almost half of Republicans in Iowa — the first state to pick its preferred candidate next year — say the former president should continue in the race even if he is imprisoned for federal crimes.

Some 48 percent said he should press on compared with 39 percent who said he should drop out, according to a survey of 600 Republicans carried out by J.L. Partners. 

The idea of a presidential candidate in prison does not deter almost half of Iowa Republicans. They say Trump should press on with his campaign even if he is imprisoned

Former President Donald Trump

Special Counsel Jack Smith

Trump and his allies have kept up attacks on Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is behind two of the cases, accusing him of running a witch hunt to keep the former president out of power

He is due to appear at the Iowa State Fair on Saturday, as candidates try to woo the grassroots. 

On Thursday, the idea that he might go to prison seemed a distant prospect for some attendees.

Jake Hansell, 78, said: ‘He’s not going to get put behind bars. He’s too smart for that.’

But if Trump loses his legal battles? ‘Sure, sure,’ said the real estate agent from Des Moines. ‘He should keep campaigning.’

With Trump facing multiple criminal trials it raises the extraordinary prospect of a candidate for the White House being imprisoned during the campaign.

In all he could face hundreds of years in prison if found guilty on all counts, although his previously clean record makes it likely he would be spared the heaviest sentences. 

James Johnson, founder of J.L. Partners, the Republican polling firm that carried out the survey, said the results should be reviewed in reverse.

‘It tempers the idea that the Republican electorate will slavishly follow Trump,’ he said. 

‘Actually when you look across the results as whole, there is a significant chunk —four in 10, according to this poll — who will actually say that Trump should drop out of the presidential race entirely if he ends up in prison.

‘For this chunk of Iowa voters it turns out there is a bridge too far.’ 

But there are signs of weakness in Trump support when it comes to the 2024 general election matchup. Almost one in five Republicans in Iowa say they would not vote for him

But there are signs of weakness in Trump support when it comes to the 2024 general election matchup. Almost one in five Republicans in Iowa say they would not vote for him

Jake Hansell, 78, at the Iowa State Fair said: 'He's not going to get put behind bars. He's too smart for that.' But if he does? 'He should keep campaigning,' he said

Jake Hansell, 78, at the Iowa State Fair said: ‘He’s not going to get put behind bars. He’s too smart for that.’ But if he does? ‘He should keep campaigning,’ he said

Trump appeared in Washington, D.C., federal court last week to plead not guilty to charges related to his attempt to hold on to power after the 2020 election

Trump appeared in Washington, D.C., federal court last week to plead not guilty to charges related to his attempt to hold on to power after the 2020 election

The fieldwork for the poll was carried out from August 1 to 7, in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s third indictment since March.

The results showed the former president retains his strong grip on the race in Iowa, a crucial early state.

He has the support of 43 percent of likely caucus-goers, according to the survey of 600 people, giving him a 26-point lead over Florida Gov, Ron DeSantis.

If anything the indictments have helped him, provided a fundraising boost and knocking rival candidates out of the news cycle.

But any advantage may be lost when it comes to next year and a possible match-up with President Joe Biden.

The poll found that almost one in five Iowa Republicans will not vote for Trump if he is the nominee. Six percent said they planned to vote for Biden, 10 percent said they would vote for another candidate, and two percent said they would not vote at all.

‘He may be able the get Iowa votes for the nomination but if he loses even a fraction of that support in a general election — people who should be some of the most diehard supporters of any Republican candidate — then he will be in real trouble,’ said the pollster Johnson.

The campaign focus switches to Iowa this week where presidential hopefuls will be shaking hands and kissing babies in a busy round of 'retail politics'

The campaign focus switches to Iowa this week where presidential hopefuls will be shaking hands and kissing babies in a busy round of ‘retail politics’

J.L. Partners surveyed 600 likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa from August 1 to 7. The results carry a margin of error of +/- four percent

J.L. Partners surveyed 600 likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa from August 1 to 7. The results carry a margin of error of +/- four percent

Meanwhile Trump’s legal woes are mounting.

He appeared in court last week to deny charges related to his efforts to hold on to power after the 2020 election.

The latest federal case accuses Trump of three conspiracies: Conspiracy to defraud the United States, two charges of obstructing an official proceeding and conspiracy against people’s rights. 

They carry maximum prison sentences of five years, 20 years and 10 years respectively. 

Earlier this year he pleaded not guilty in New York court to charges related to a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. He is due to go on trial next year on 34 charges of falsifying business records, which carry a potential jail term of four years each.

And in June Trump was charged in federal court with illegally possessing classified documents after leaving the White House and concealing them from the government.

Police closed roads and patrolled with dogs around the Atlanta courthouse on Monday. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is believed to be in the final stages of her probe into Trump

Police closed roads and patrolled with dogs around the Atlanta courthouse on Monday. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is believed to be in the final stages of her probe into Trump

Food carts stayed away and the usually bustling district was empty on Monday

Food carts stayed away and the usually bustling district was empty on Monday

Each of the 32 charges of ‘willful retention of national secrets’ carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison

The six charges of obstruction of justice can be punished with sentences of 20 years. And two charges of making false statements each carry a five-year maximum. 

There could be more charges to come. This week police in Atlanta, Georgia, sealed off its downtown courthouse ahead of an expected 2020 election-related indictment.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is in the final stages of her investigation into Trump’s efforts to reverse his defeat in the key swing state.