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Donald Trump Is Going Down in Flames

By Gage Skidmore - Former President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with attendees at the 2022 Student Action Summit at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida.
Former President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with attendees at the 2022 Student Action Summit at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida. Author: Gage Skidmore.

The Trump Campaign is supposedly “jacked up” about incorporating the recent federal indictment that former President Donald Trump was made to endure for his alleged mishandling of classified information and a subsequent attempt to obstruct justice. 

According to these unnamed campaign insiders, the forty-fifth president and his inner circle believe that the indictments are completely politically motivated and therefore will empower Trump politically in what has become an increasingly crowded Republican Party primary field. 

Indeed, the spate of polls that were released after his indictment by the Washington, D.C.-based grand jury investigating the claims that the former president mishandled classified documents show that Trump’s numbers among likely Republican voters have increased. 

Something similar happened for Donald Trump after his indictment over the purported illicit hush money payments he made to the pornographic actress, Stormy Daniels, in 2016. 

Yet, there’s more than meets the eye to these polls. 

Diving Deep into the Polls

After all, in key battleground and early primary states, such as Iowa, the former president is in a virtual tie with his key challenger for the Republican nomination, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. 

Beyond the primary, in a key battleground state—a so-called “purple” state, like North Carolina—one poll indicates that Biden has lost the support of young, independent voters there who’ve grown disenchanted with his presidency. This constituency was instrumental in bringing North Carolina to Biden’s camp. 

Their loss would devastate the Biden Campaign in a General Election. 

That group of voters in North Carolina would be amenable to voting for a generic Republican presidential nominee over their former favorite in 2020, Joe Biden. 

Although, that paradigm collapses the moment that Donald Trump is the nominee. That same group of North Carolina independents, who now dislike Biden and are desperate for a Republican alternative, run back into his creepy embrace when put up against Donald Trump, whom they loathe. 

And it plays that way throughout the country. 

Getting back to the Trump Campaign’s apparent excitement to make the forty-fifth president’s historic number of indictments (with at least one more indictment likely coming down the pike for Trump’s supposed attempt to unduly influence the Georgia election in 2020) as part of a larger, frankly bizarre, campaign strategy of coming across to voters as both a victim of the faceless men who comprise the so-called “Deep State” as well as martyr for the “MAGA” movement. 

It won’t work. 

The move smacks of desperation of a sort that I’ve never seen former President Trump display. Even he must know that this is a terrible idea. Certainly, the Trump Campaign’s polling team must see it.

While it’s true that, generally speaking, the indictments and the Trump Campaign’s narrative about the indictments being part of the “Deep State” campaign to get to the ordinary American by destroying Trump helps the Trump Campaign in the polls. There’s a deeper issue here. The very same polls indicating general increases in support for Trump in the wake of the indictments also highlight just how divided the Republican Party’s voters are about his legal troubles.

Sure, the “ride-or-die” Trump supporters who comprise the MAGA coalition within the GOP think that his indictments are star-spangled amazing. Unfortunately for the Trump Campaign, that sentiment is not shared by all Republican voters. 

So, at best, the GOP voters are deeply divided on Trump’s indictment and more generally, they are uncertain about Trump’s worthiness of being their nominee in 2024. Not when there are other candidates—notably DeSantis—who possess Trump’s worldview but have paired it with far greater discipline and executive competence. 

Republicans are Split on Trump

In the words of Jonathan Bernstein, a political scientist employed by Bloomberg, “Trump splits the [GOP]. No, not evenly, but an 80/20 split is a real split.” 

What’s more, with each new indictment comes an increasing number of Republicans—and those pesky independent voters—who are troubled by Trump’s legal woes. Democrats do not need to depress all Republican turnout for Trump or dissuade every independent voter from supporting Trump. 

All they need is to slice away a little bit here and a little bit there.

As David Leonhardt of the New York Times correctly assesses: “Fifty percent [of Republicans in favor of Trump’s campaign] isn’t the only number that matters when you’re looking at subgroups in a poll. Small shifts within each party can determine election outcomes [emphasis added].” 

Leonhardt also deftly reminds his readers about the 2022 Midterm Election experience. Those elections were supposedly going to repeat the history of the 2010 Midterms that swept the Republican Party into overwhelming majorities in Congress. Instead, 2022 proved to be a major letdown for the GOP. 

Yes, the Republicans won a very slim majority in the United States House of Representatives, but they failed to recapture the Senate. And even in the House, the GOP is deeply divided. 

The divided nature of the Republicans, riven between the MAGA-type insurgents and the milquetoast establishment-types, has proven to be detrimental to the effectiveness of even having a majority in Congress. Leonhardt’s point is that these small shifts in support among various subgroups embedded within larger political coalitions prove decisive in election years. 

In 2022, the reason that the Republicans lost when they should have overwhelmingly won was because “a small slice of Republican voters was unhappy enough with Trump’s anti-democratic behavior (and the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling) to defect from the party, helping Democrats keep control of the Senate.” 

David Leonhardt is correct in his assessment that the “last two presidential elections offer a similar case study: Trump lost the presidency in 2020 because 11 percent of typical Republican voters supported Joe Biden, up from 9 percent who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.” 

Donald Trump Has Outlasted His Usefulness 

Nominating Trump again as president would ensure that the GOP enters a contentious 2024 Presidential Election divided and unsure of how to proceed. A Republican Party driven by its internal contradictions will not defeat a united and galvanized Democratic Party—no matter how much damage that the unconventional candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., does to Biden’s reelection campaign in the Democratic Party’s Presidential Primary. 

Governor DeSantis, on the other hand, captures the bulk of the Republican Party’s conservative base that is ideologically uncertain of Trump while likely capturing at least some of the MAGA coalition that has catapulted Trump to his position of prominence in the GOP. If push-came-to-shove, it is likely that this combination of votes—as well as DeSantis’ stronger appeal to fickle independents—would be far likelier to best Joe Biden than anything Trump could do. 

Ultimately winning the General Election is the most important aspect of the election. So, all this talk about Trump being the best candidate in 2024 because he carries around 50 percent of the GOP vote is irrelevant if the forty-fifth president can’t garner enough independents and minorities to put the White House back under his control.

A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (Encounter Books), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.

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Written By

Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who recently became a writer for Weichert is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (March 28), and Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.