Two weeks ago Donald Trump was convicted of 34 felonies, putting him in history books as the first former President to have suffered such a fate. And, a few days ago, Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, became the first child of a sitting President to be slammed on drugs and guns charge. Both Trump and Biden Jr. await sentencing, said to be weeks away.

The contrasts could not be starker but still the temptation to draw inferences to the Presidential election of November 2024. Trump was found guilty on a $130,000 hush money payment to a adult actress with whom he allegedly had an affair but one that surfaced in the course of the 2016 campaign trail. Hunter Biden’s had to do with lying to authorities in the process of procuring a gun and hiding the fact that he was a drug addict.

The Republicans, the far right especially, have been gunning for Hunter Biden for a long time hoping to link his father to some of business dealings the son may have had when dad was Vice-President in the Barack Obama administration. In fact the impeachment efforts against President Biden have had a heady mix of Hunter Biden but till date little to nothing has surfaced; and the impeachment process itself appears to be losing steam. But in Biden Jr’s Delaware courtroom drama, the right wing crowd had no dad-son nexus even if in different contexts former president Trump has alleged that President Biden is at times high on substances and apparently at one point even suggesting that one pre-condition of any Presidential debate was that President Biden must be tested, something so outrageous that it did not merit a serious response from the White House.

Not an influencing factor

First indications are that neither the Hunter Biden trial nor the conviction seem to have had any impact on the minds of voters. Two-thirds of registered voters, in a Reuters/Ipsos poll, said they had heard a “fair amount” of the trial of Biden Jr but 80 per cent said that this will have no bearing on the likelihood to vote for President Biden on November 5. In the hush money conviction of Trump only 61 per cent had said that it would have no impact on their voting decision.

Importantly, Independent voters that both Trump and President Biden are actively wooing more or less stayed with the mainstream sentiments: four out of five saying Biden Jr’s conviction would not influence their voting; and 60 per cent feeling that way about Trump’s conviction. Looking at registered voters, 16 per cent took the view that Biden Jr’s conviction would make them less likely to vote for President Biden and just 4 per cent maintained that they would be more likely to do so. On Trump’s Manhattan conviction, 24 per cent of registered voters said that they would be less likely to vote for the former president and 14 per cent took the more likely to do so option.

Senior Republicans in Congress have been urging the rank and file not to make any linkages between the travails of Hunter Biden and President Biden knowing full well it could be counter-productive. The tie-in, one perception goes, could actually garner more sympathy given that numerous families are torn apart from drug related violence, with or without firearms. If the Bidens have rallied around Hunter, including many in the family being at the courthouse and testifying and President Biden being at the Delaware airport hugging his son after the verdict, it was something that Americans could relate to. Or as President Biden put it, “I am the President, but I am also a dad.”

Given the charges, a potential of 25 years in prison could be in store for Hunter Biden — could also be that he will see no real jail time given the nature of offences and the first time conviction. But the larger message has not been lost. Aside from staying away from any courtroom drama and spectacle, President Biden has made one thing clear: No Pardon. And that should count for something, even if commutation may be on the cards.

The writer is a senior journalist who has reported from Washington DC on North America and United Nations