As the indictments against former President Donald Trump continue piling up, there has been more speculation about how it could affect his chances of securing the GOP nomination and winning the presidency. Ever since the politically-motivated effort to bury the former president in legal troubles began with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Trump’s polling numbers have been climbing.
But a new poll suggests what several people, including myself, have surmised about Trump’s legal troubles and how they might help him win the primary, but could also significantly impede his ability to defeat President Joe Biden in the general election:
The two-day Reuters/Ipsos poll, which closed before Trump’s late-afternoon court appearance, asked respondents if they would vote for Trump for president next year if he were “convicted of a felony crime by a jury.” Among Republicans, 45% said they would not vote for him, more than the 35% who said they would. The rest said they didn’t know.
Asked if they would vote for Trump if he were “currently serving time in prison,” 52% of Republicans said they would not, compared to 28% who said they would.
To put it simply, if Trump somehow winds up getting convicted of a felony, his support among the Republican base could decline significantly if the results of the survey are accurate. The situation becomes even more dire if he spends time behind bars.
The poll’s findings seem to contradict prior surveys:
Opinion polls show Republican support for Trump surging since the first of three indictments was issued in March. He is far and away the front-runner, leading second-place Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, by close to 30 percentage points.
As much as people have been speculating about the impact of the numerous indictments against Trump would affect his chances of winning the nomination, it has also sparked conversation regarding what Democrats are hoping to achieve by weaponizing the justice system against him. Are they banking on the possibility that the indictments will help Trump in the primary and cripple him in the general election? The results of these surveys seem to suggest this strategy could bear fruit for them in 2024.
It is also worth noting that a felony conviction could also harm Trump’s chances to win the primary as well. If he is jailed during primary season, it is realistic that conservative voters might choose one of the other contenders who won’t have to worry about prison. However, this raises a question: Could any of these indictments result in a felony conviction before the primary season ends? I would surmise that if Democrats wanted a guilty verdict before then, they can—and will—make it happen.
If none of these indictments come to fruition before the conclusion of the primaries, then it seems obvious that the Democrats’ strategy was to boost Trump against his Republican opponents and harm him in the general election. It’s a plan that could work, especially if nothing significant happens to damage Biden’s campaign in the meantime.
Still, anything can happen, right? Perhaps each of these indictments will fall short of resulting in a conviction. It stands to reason that this is a possibility considering that each of them is 100 percent motivated by a desire to influence the outcome of the 2024 election. While some of the charges could be made to stick, most of them are about as compelling as a PowerPoint presentation about drying paint.
The legal process is not always predictable and can be quite complex. But the only thing that is clear is that however this plays out, it will have a tremendous impact on the American political landscape.