As the calendar turned to 2024 and Americans brace themselves for what is likely to be another bruising presidential election, leftists appear to be banking on the courts to finally dispatch their nemesis to the political wilderness. As they’ve pretty much tried everything else in the book, progressives are pinning their fondest hopes and dreams on at least one of the 91 criminal charges against former President Donald Trump to do what they have been unable to accomplish and send him packing. However, there’s reason to doubt that using the courts to do what they could not will work.
Trump and the Polls
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times that “Trump’s numbers will drop 6 – 7 points should he suffer a criminal conviction.” Here’s why that may be wishful falderal.
The most recent to make this assertion (or something close to it) is the New York Times/Siena College poll. This national survey queried 1,016 registered voters – a typical sample size, but when it came to the critical question about Trump, there were only 380 respondents. Why? Because it included only Republican primary voters. Fair enough, one might say, but 380 is still an extraordinarily small sample. Even still, 62% said they would remain loyal to Trump despite a conviction. Those who continue to be convinced that Trump supporters will jump ship should The Donald feel the wrath of the courtroom need to look no further than what the NYT itself said are a few reasons Republicans will stand by their man:
- Three-quarters of Republican primary voters do not believe Mr. Trump will receive a fair trial.
- Four-fifths say the charges against him are mostly politically motivated, not because the prosecutors actually believed he committed a crime.
Another reason to doubt Republicans will dump Trump if a court rules against him is that he already lost the E. Jean Carroll civil lawsuit, and that didn’t so much as cause a hiccup in his poll numbers. Ah, you say, but that wasn’t a criminal conviction. One could argue that voters are likely to find the Carroll case more distasteful with its tawdry details.
This brings us to point two: A conviction won’t hurt Trump’s numbers because his accusers have impeached any shred of credibility they might once have enjoyed.
Republicans view those going after Trump as a thoroughly repugnant group of empowered Democrats abusing their offices. From New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg to the honorable Judge Arthur Engoron to New York Attorney General Letitia James and everyone in between, Trump appears to be suffering under the mighty hands of rabid, card-carrying members of the opposing party.
Engoron, for example, appeared to lord his power over the former president while on the witness stand. “It’s not usual,” Rich Lowry pointed out in a Politico piece, “for a judge, as Arthur Engoron did, to declare a guilty verdict at the beginning of the trial, rather than the end.” Meanwhile, Ms. James, who notoriously ran on a “get Trump” platform, sat in the courtroom with a self-satisfied smirk.
Then there’s Alvin Bragg, whose case is so thin even he has trouble explaining what he’s after. Meanwhile, recent challenges to remove Mr. Trump from the ballots in several states are being prosecuted by supposed keepers of the flame of democracy. Their novel grounds for legal action have constitutional experts scratching their heads. Without a doubt, this group – much broader than just those mentioned here – has impugned its own integrity and is beset by problems of its own making.
Finally, we reach point three: Trump still rules and reigns over the media.
One must give them a Bronx cheer for the media trying to wean themselves off their proven ratings buster, but in the end, Donald Trump and the sheer numbers he produces when he’s on air or in print proved too strong an opioid for their defenses. They needed a 12-step program to get there, and it’s questionable that they made it beyond step one: admit that they were powerless over the Trumpster.
Fox did its darndest for a while there, as did the New York Post – both outlets barely tolerate Trump – but the big man pulls readers and viewers in like candy hearts on Valentine’s Day. Before long, Americans were watching the Trump plane taxi for 20 minutes “live” on the air à la the O.J.-Bronco chase until the anchorman began to question aloud why they were staring at a closed, slow-moving aircraft with Trump written in big letters on the side.
Fox took a knee when Hannity did a town hall with Orange Man Bad – and didn’t even allow questions from the audience, which is the stated purpose of such an event. Free media is the lifeblood of any political campaign, and Mr. Trump is its grandmaster.
Even if there is an initial drop in support for Trump following a conviction, who believes the former president won’t be able to command the center ring and use the court finding to assail his competitors? A ripple in the pond does not maketh a precipitous drop. One must remember that Donald J. Trump has consistently played chess while others were diddling with checkers, and chances are he’s figured a thousand ways to Sunday how to squeeze the juice out of a conviction, if necessary. Should he manage to overcome a negative court ruling, the left will be relegated to the age-old method of beating him at the ballot box – and this time, he’s taking nothing for granted.