One might expect that Donald Trump’s four indictments would disrupt his campaign and turn his electoral fortunes around. Especially given that, unlike the campaign-fund case, the allegations sound decidedly serious. However, even according to the news organizations most unsympathetic to the former President, nothing of the sort has happened. Rather, almost everyone agrees with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham that “Trump is stronger today politically than he was before.” At the very least, Trump’s chances of being the next GOP Presidential candidate remain unaffected. All this, despite facing not only legal issues, but a crowded field of competitors, including the more presentable face of Trumpism: Ron DeSantis.
Generally, opinion polls show that a plurality of voters does not refute the indictments’ validity. For instance, in the case of the second indictment, they believe government officers should not take secret documents home. However, the majority of Americans does not necessarily believe that Trump’s actions warrant his removal from office. Or, for that matter, any other punishment. Moreover, the judiciary’s unprecedented interferences in the upcoming, tight race for the White House may actually serve Trump’s cause well. In fact, self-identified Republicans’ support for the former President jumped by eight points since February according to PBS. Meanwhile, moving the yardstick back to just before this latest indictment, shows an even larger effect. In fact, Trump’s favorability among Republicans grew by almost 10% in the last month according to an ABC-Ipsos poll.
So, the continuous unboxing of new accusations against the President does not damage Trump’s popularity among his base. Rather, it makes it easier for him to rally his supporters against the attacks of the “swamp”. Basically, three-quarters of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters view Trump favorably and would vote for him. Meanwhile, 58% of independents of an even larger majority of Democrats believe that he should drop out of the presidential race. But this is not to say that Trump’s relegating himself to being the idol of a small, deplorable minority. Actually, quite the opposite. In fact, 80% of self-identified Republicans will vote for whoever is the party’s nominee. Moreover, most GOP primary voters feel it’s extremely important to support a candidate who can defeat President Biden. And Trump now commands a heartening six-point lead over Joe Biden in a rematch of the 2020 race. In practice, this could be enough to win over the “44,000 votes” that “separated Biden and Trump from a tie” last time around.
Obviously, it is worth noting that the situation is fluid and public opinion could shift as more information about the indictments becomes available. For now, however, Trump remains a divisive figure in American politics, loved by many of his supporters and reviled by his detractors. And, while these indictments have certainly impacted Trump’s public image, their effects vary significantly among different demographics. While his overall approval rating has declined, his support among Republicans grows stronger by the day. This situation underscores the deep political divide in the country, with Trump continuing to be a polarizing figure.
Undoubtedly, Trump’s enduring popularity among Republican voters means that he will continue to be a significant force in American politics. Regardless of the legal challenges he faces, there is a substantial part of the American electorate that identifies with him. And those who appreciate democracy should feel relieved by the very fact that Trump is actively contesting the next election. Otherwise, given the debate in conservative political circles, these voters may look for answers outside the constitutional boundaries.
The sooner the American elite understands that Trump is the last bulwark against the total alienation of a large chunk of society, the more chances there will be for the country’s political system to recover its full functionality.