Trump is the first president in U.S. history to be indicted under criminal charges. But will it hurt his prospects, or could it help him win the election? Here’s what 15 Americans had to say.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
An Initial Boost
“I think the knee-jerk reaction is this will help him in the primary,” one commenter said when asked how Trump’s indictments will impact the election. However, they noted the help might only be in the form of a “huge fundraising boost.” And ultimately, the indictments would hurt Trump’s reputation with independent voters.
A GOP Win
Another person mentioned that the GOP would win overall if Trump were convicted. “Trump going to prison would make the GOP incredibly happy,” they said. “As it stands, he’s the favorite to win their primary. They know he’s got almost no chance of winning, so they want him gone.”
All Press Is Good Press
“All anyone will talk about is Donald. The right will rally,” another user said. They also mentioned that because Trump’s trials will dominate the news media, other favorable GOP candidates, like DeSantis, don’t stand a chance.
“Let’s not overthink this,” said a rational contributor. “Being indicted is generally not a way to win over skeptical voters.” Given that Trump will need to win over undecided citizens, the indictment should have an overall negative effect on his run in their eyes.
Yet, another user reminded the group that with Trump, norms don’t always prevail. They mentioned that it felt like 2016 all over again. Many claim the indictments make Trump “unelectable,” but an unelectable Trump is exactly who became president.
One person noted that primary voters want their candidate to win the election. With that in mind, they might not pick Trump. As far as long-term strategies go, choosing a candidate who’s not in prison would be favorable.
“A week is a long time in politics,” another respondent said. “And the primary is not for a long time yet.” Over time, the indictments and their subsequent trials could do a lot to change people’s perceptions of Trump.
One commenter noted that Trump can easily use the indictments to his advantage: “Trump gets to go up to the Republican base and say, ‘The elites and the Democrats are so scared of us and our movement, that they’re trying to arrest me.’ It helps sell the outsider narrative that made him popular in the first place.”
“I don’t think this is going to boost his popularity among Republicans,” said one person. “They all already think he’s the victim of a witch hunt. They all already think he’s been wrongly maligned by the media, Democrats, the Deep State, etc. What is this indictment going to show them?”
A Done Deal
Another agreed. “I think he already had the primary locked up,” they said about Trump. “The GOP is too fractured to agree on a consensus candidate. Haley, Christie, and even DeSantis will try, and Trump will stand there laughing while they swing at air and fall one by one.”
Been Wrong Before
One user thought that while Trump may be the GOP candidate regardless of his legal troubles, the general election was a different story. As they put it, “The people who say this will help him in the 2024 general election said the same thing about being impeached in 2020.” Many thought the impeachment would help him win the election, but Trump lost.
An Opening For Someone New
“I feel like the ground is laid for some GOP candidate to ‘offer’ what Trump did (victory, owning the libs) and advocate for why they are better positioned to deliver, ” another user said, though they didn’t know who that candidate might be.
America Doesn’t Like A Victim
One user pointed out that Trump’s attitude towards the indictments could remind the public why they disliked his presidency. “It reminds people of the disarray and drama of his Administration,” they said. “I can see it hurting him as long as he plays the whiny victim card.”
Another mentioned that Trump’s supporters are incredibly loyal, and if the GOP doesn’t make him their candidate, another possibility exists. “Trump may run on his own,” they pointed out. “He’s arrogant enough to do that, and it’ll work to Biden’s advantage.”
One user was sure the legal battles would cost Trump a shot at the presidency. “A trial would probably go well into the election cycle and would hinder his chances,” they noted. “He’d be distracted with the trial, and it would definitely be used against him by opponents.”
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