Nearly a quarter of former President Donald J. Trump’s own supporters believe that he should not be the Republican Party’s nominee for president next year if he is found guilty of a crime, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll.
Mr. Trump continues to enjoy an enormous lead among the Republican candidates vying for the party’s presidential nomination, and he has used the prosecutions he faces to cast himself as the target of political persecution by Democrats and President Biden. But the poll suggests that a not-insignificant minority of those who would otherwise want him at the top of the Republican ticket in November could change their mind if he were found guilty in any of the four criminal cases he is facing, even if he has won the primary contest.
Another 20 percent of those who identified themselves as Trump supporters went so far as to say that he should go to prison if he is convicted in the federal case in Washington in which he stands accused of plotting to overturn the 2020 election. And 23 percent of his supporters said they believe that he has committed “serious federal crimes,” up from 11 percent in July.
The poll was conducted before the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Mr. Trump should be disqualified from the Republican primary ballot in that state. The court ruled that Mr. Trump was ineligible under the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies anyone found to have participated in an insurrection from holding office.
The findings in the poll underscore the importance to Mr. Trump of the strategy he and his lawyers are pursuing to delay his trials, especially the federal election interference case in Washington.
That case, scheduled to start in early March, has long been considered likely to be the first of the four to go before a jury, though Mr. Trump has also sought to postpone the other trials.
Those include a federal case in Florida accusing him of illegally holding on to classified documents after leaving office, another in Manhattan stemming from hush money payments made to a porn star in the run-up to the 2016 election, and one in Georgia in which Mr. Trump has been charged in a racketeering conspiracy with tampering with that state’s election.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly described the cases, including the ones brought against him by state prosecutors, as political “witch hunts” designed solely to impede his candidacy. The Times poll found that 84 percent of Mr. Trump’s supporters — and 46 percent of all registered voters surveyed — believe that the various charges he is facing are “mostly politically motivated.”
Mr. Trump has a long history of using delay tactics in the civil litigation he has faced. But the criminal cases are different, in that Mr. Trump and some of his advisers have been blunt in private conversations that he would have the Justice Department simply drop the cases against him should he be re-elected.
Some of those advisers believe that it would be virtually impossible under the Constitution for the state cases to proceed against him while he was a sitting president, even though he would have no authority over local prosecutors’ offices.
Postponing the trials until after the election would also have another effect: It would keep voters from hearing the expansive evidence against Mr. Trump that prosecutors have collected before they went to the polls.
If the election interference case in particular were put off until after the race was decided, it would mean that millions of Americans would never hear the details of Mr. Trump’s attempts to derail the results of the last election before considering him for office again in 2024.
When asked in a previous poll about Mr. Trump’s actions to try to remain in power after the 2020 election, 51 percent of swing state voters — including 13 percent of Mr. Trump’s own supporters — said he went so far as to threaten democracy. In the same poll, most of Mr. Trump’s supporters across the battleground states said they would still support Mr. Trump if he were convicted, but about 6 percent said they would switch their votes to Mr. Biden — potentially enough to swing the election.