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Who Cares About Jail or Laws: Donald Trump Is Still the King of the GOP

On June 8, former United States president Donald Trump was indicted on federal charges of mishandling classified documents. And oddly enough, his poll numbers are solid.

Donald Trump. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

A look at U.S. politics from Australian eyes – On June 8, former United States president Donald Trump was indicted on federal charges of mishandling classified documents. Despite the indictment, he retains a huge lead in national polling to determine the 2024 Republican presidential candidate.

Both Democrats and Republicans will select their presidential candidates for the November 2024 general election using a series of state by state contests in early 2024. Polls of early states will become more important as we approach these contests, but for now national polls are the best guide we have.

In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate of national Republican primary polls, Trump currently leads with 53.1%, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis far behind on 21.2% and nobody else over 6%. Trump’s lead has only marginally declined from 53.5-20.8 over DeSantis in my last US politics article in late May.

If Trump is convicted at a trial before the November 2024 election, he can still run for president. This Politico article said that a Socialist presidential candidate in 1920 ran from behind bars and received 3% of the popular vote.

Section 44 of the Australian Constitution disqualifies anyone under sentence or subject to be sentenced for a crime with a prison sentence of one year or longer from serving in federal parliament, but there’s no US equivalent. If Trump were elected president from prison, he could pardon himself.

Biden’s ratings have not improved since debt limit deal

In late May, President Joe Biden agreed to a debt limit deal with Republican House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and the deal was passed by both chambers of Congress by June 1. I covered this for The Poll Bludger.

Biden’s ratings in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate are currently 54.2% disapprove, 41.2% disapprove (net -12.9). In my May US politics article before the debt limit deal was struck, his net approval was -10.4.

While the US unemployment rate has been under 4% since December 2021, the US deficit has increased in monthly tracking since the 2022 fiscal year; the US fiscal year ends in September. Large deficits were run in 2020 and 2021 owing to COVID, but with this pandemic resolved, voters may expect a reduced deficit.

The failure of Biden’s ratings to improve after the debt limit deal suggests Republican rhetoric on the need for spending cuts in the lead-up to the debt crisis was effective, and that McCarthy could have pushed for deeper cuts than what occurred.

In my May US politics article, I said that Biden could face a challenge to his assumed renomination as the Democratic presidential candidate if somebody well-known were to enter. But this hasn’t happened yet, and Biden is far ahead of his only two declared challengers: Robert F Kennedy Jr and Marianne Williamson.

With Trump and Biden likely to be the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates at the November 2024 election, general election polls between these two candidates are relevant.

This recent FiveThirtyEight article listed seven pollsters that have released Trump vs Biden polls since Trump’s indictment, and compared to polls by the same pollsters before the indictment. In the average of these seven polls, Trump led by 42.6-41.4, compared to 42.9-42.3 before the indictment.

Bad news for Trump regarding the indictment (his national favourability ratings have fallen) may be compensated by Biden’s drop in approval ratings. Neither is a young candidate. By the November 2024 election, Trump will be 78 and Biden almost 82.

Boris Johnson resigns from UK parliament

On June 9, former United Kingdom PM Boris Johnson resigned his seat in the House of Commons after the privileges committee recommended a parliamentary suspension above the ten days needed to trigger a recall petition.

If at least 10% of registered voters in a seat sign such a petition, a byelection is required. Johnson knew he would be forced to a byelection, so he resigned preemptively.

As long as Rishi Sunak remains PM and Conservative leader, he can thwart any attempt by Johnson to renominate as a Conservative candidate at a byelection or general election. As Sunak and Johnson are rivals, it’s very unlikely that Sunak will allow Johnson to return as a Conservative candidate.

The next UK general election is due by late 2024. Johnson’s resignation has damaged the Conservatives in the polls, with Labour’s lead in UK national polls back out to about 20 points after slowly sliding to about 15 points.

Right and far-right are doing well in Europe

The governing centre-left Socialists have called a Spanish election for July 23, but polls suggest the conservative People’s Party and far-right Vox will win a combined majority. If this occurs, Spain will follow Italy last year as the second major European country to fall to the right.

In Germany, the centre-left Social Democrats formed a governing coalition with the Greens and pro-business Free Democrats after the September 2021 election. Polls are showing a surge for the conservative Christian Democrats and far-right Alternative for Germany. The next German election is due by October 2025.

Adrian Beaumont is an Election Analyst (Psephologist) at The Conversation; and Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, The University of Melbourne in Australia. This first appeared in the Conversation

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Written By

Adrian Beaumont Election Analyst (Psephologist) at The Conversation; and Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, The University of Melbourne