Former President Donald Trump has been indicted by a grand jury in New York on charges related to hush money payments made to cover up affairs he allegedly had. While the Trump GOP has attempted to use political tactics to insulate the former president with his base, Trump’s brand has become toxic with much of the rest of America. Trump has called the indictment “political persecution” and “an act of blatant election interference.” Republican leaders like House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan have also condemned the indictment, calling it an “unprecedented abuse of power” and “outrageous.”
It’s important to note that the indictment wasn’t the result of a prosecutor or judge making a unilateral decision. Instead, a grand jury heard evidence from a prosecutor and decided that there was enough evidence to file charges against Trump. This means that there is a legal process that is being followed, and if there is a conspiracy, a jury of Trump’s peers will be involved as well.
Overall, the indictment of a former president is a historic moment in U.S. history, and it remains to be seen how it will play out in the coming weeks and months. Trump’s base may remain loyal to him, but many Americans view his brand as toxic.
Despite the indictment against former President Donald Trump, questions remain about the strength of the case against him. Trump has used the indictment to push his political message, arguing that the left is out to get him and that the system is rigged against him and his supporters. He has used similar messaging throughout his career, including during the Mueller Russia investigation, two impeachments, and other criminal investigations.
This messaging appears to be working with his base, as 8 in 10 Republicans have a favorable opinion of him and believe that the investigations are a “witch hunt.” However, a majority of Americans – 57% – believe that the investigations are fair.
The indictment against Trump is a historic moment in US history, and it remains to be seen how it will affect his political future. While it has strengthened his position with Republicans, his brand has become toxic with many Americans.
It’s important to note that an indictment is different from a conviction, and the legal process must still be followed. If there is a conspiracy, a jury of Trump’s peers will be involved.
Overall, the indictment is just one of several legal challenges facing Trump, including other criminal investigations related to his conduct after the 2020 presidential election and his role in the lead up to the Jan. 6 insurrection.
To Trump’s messaging, a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday found that two-thirds of all respondents think that the charges in New York are not that serious and 6 in 10 agree that the investigation is politically motivated.
According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, two-thirds of respondents believe that the charges brought against Trump in New York are not that serious, and six in 10 believe that the investigation is politically motivated. However, the other three criminal investigations that Trump faces are believed to be more potentially damaging than the New York case. If convicted, it will be harder for Trump to argue that the charges were politically motivated, but he may still claim vindication if he is acquitted.
Primary vs. general election audience
The Republican Party has faced electoral setbacks in the last three consecutive election cycles. When Donald Trump assumed the presidency, the GOP held power in Washington with control of the White House, the House, and the Senate. However, this changed quickly as the party lost dozens of House seats in 2018, leading to the Democrats gaining control of the lower chamber. In the 2020 presidential election, Trump lost his bid for reelection by 7 million votes, and Democrats gained control of the Senate. In the 2022 midterms, many Trump-endorsed candidates lost in swing states and competitive districts, costing the GOP. Despite being the president’s party in a first midterm, they failed to make significant gains, and the Democrats expanded their Senate majority. The Republicans did take back the House, but it was a narrower victory than they had hoped for.
The Republican Party has lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections. This is the longest losing streak for either party in their histories since the Republican Party was created in the 19th century. The party’s close association with Trump’s brand has contributed to their recent electoral setbacks. Trump’s rhetoric and actions have often been divisive and controversial, leading to a backlash from many Americans. While the former president has maintained a strong base of support within the party, his brand has become toxic to much of the rest of America. The party’s future success may depend on whether they can successfully navigate this divide and broaden their appeal beyond Trump’s base.
Despite former President Donald Trump’s claims of “witch hunts” and conspiracies, his popularity among Americans has declined over the past several years. The Republican Party has suffered significant losses in the last three election cycles, including losing control of the House and Senate and losing the presidency in 2020. The GOP has also lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections, which is the worst streak for either party since the Republican Party was created in the 19th century.
A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 6 in 10 Americans do not want Trump to be president again, including two-thirds of independents. However, three-quarters of Republicans said they want him to be president again, which is significant for a presidential primary. Republican strategists believe that the only way to change this dynamic is if other Republican candidates highlight Trump’s political vulnerabilities, such as his legal troubles and the chaos surrounding him, and make that argument clear to the GOP base. But so far, no candidate has been willing to do this in any sustained way.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a potential chief rival to Trump, has been careful not to offend the pro-Trump GOP base while also trying to distinguish himself from Trump. However, Trump’s hold on the GOP base is evident in DeSantis’ recent supportive tweet about Trump’s legal troubles in New York. Trump’s lawyers and the New York District Attorney’s office will likely agree on an arraignment date with Trump either virtually or in person, and there is no indication that Florida will need to assist in an extradition request.
Republicans have to balance their desire to beat Trump in a presidential primary with their need to appeal to the pro-Trump base. Criticizing Trump’s political vulnerabilities could be a way to weaken his hold on the GOP, but no candidate has been willing to do so in a sustained way. The hold Trump has on the GOP base is evident in the fact that three-quarters of Republicans want him to be president again, despite his declining popularity among Americans more broadly. It remains to be seen how Republican candidates will navigate this delicate balance in the upcoming presidential primary.