On Tuesday, Donald Trump was arraigned in New York on 34 felony criminal charges of falsifying business records.
The charges stem from payments made to individuals in the lead up to the 2016 election to cover up extramarital affairs the former president allegedly engaged in. I published a piece earlier today explaining why I thought the charges were extraordinarily thin and why Alvin Bragg’s pursuit of them was a dangerous action not based in law, but rather in politics. However, in this article, I want to break down how this indictment will impact the 2024 presidential election and Trump’s odds of winning.
Many have claimed that the indictment of Donald Trump only aids his campaign. However, while I think it has the potential to help him in the Republican primary, it only further hurts his chances of winning a general election.
Independent voters, the group Trump is going to have the most difficulty convincing in a general election, broadly approve of the indictment with 62% saying they agree with Bragg’s actions. Donald Trump will not win a general election if this group were to swing towards Biden, as they did in 2020.
However, the most pressing issue is the influence these charges will have on the primary fight between Trump and the rest of the GOP field. A recent poll indicates that the indictment only further contributed to his head to head lead on Ron DeSantis, who is often seen as the biggest threat to Trump’s third attempt at a White House bid. Trump now leads by a staggering 33 points, compared with just a 12-point margin in January.
The one thing nobody contests about the indictment is that it recenters GOP politics around Trump. Even though he never truly left the spotlight, his support has been waning. For the first time since he secured the nomination back in 2016, we were in an era in which Republicans were open to moving away from Trump.
Democrats, as much as they claim Trump is the antithesis of American democracy, would love nothing more than for Trump to be the nominee. Trump’s presence allows them to orient their entire campaign strategy around beating Trump, a proven strategy that delivered victories for them in the 2020 presidential election and the 2022 midterms.
Republicans are in a bind. Candidates like Ron DeSantis will have a difficult time defending Trump in this case and condemning him in others. DeSantis has thus far gone after Alvin Bragg for prosecuting the case while simultaneously highlighting the alleged actions of Trump as being problematic, but any time you are forced to defend your main opponent you are already fighting a losing battle. DeSantis’ campaign will have a difficult time threading the needle on this issue. Other candidates, like Nikki Haley, have tried to avoid the issue, but have inevitably been forced to condemn the overreach.
While I praise Republicans who outspokenly condemn such a flimsy reach at indicting a former president, they must tread lightly so as not to swing the pendulum back in Donald Trump’s favor as a response to Bragg’s abuse of power. The fate of our 2024 election depends on candidates’ ability to navigate the tumultuous waters of Donald Trump and his scandals, and this indictment is just another wrinkle in their ability to navigate such uncharted territory.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.