washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Are Dems Ready to Meet the Challenge of the Trump Verdict?

No. There is no way to fully prepare for such an unprecedented political event. Never before has a Democratic presidential campaign had to run against a convicted felon.

“Americans reacted Thursday to the historic conviction of former President Donald Trump on 34 felony charges with a mixture of surprise, joy, anger, indifference and expletives,” a team of reporters note in “‘Speechless’: Swing state voters react to Donald Trump’s guilty verdict“ at USA Today. Politico has five “takeaways” from the verdict. NPR has four. But nobody really knows how it will play out.

Can Democrats safely assume that Trump will still be the Republican nominee? Probably, although the prospects for chaos in the Republican Party have just increased significantly, and the chaos factor was already a big problem for them. Nearly all Republican “leaders,” notably including Nikki Haley, have signed up for the Trump grovelfest. Watch them now squirm as they try to justify their continued support for a convicted felon, while still trying to project an image of conservative public servants who are tough on crime. That sell just got a lot harder.

Some worry that the verdict will somehow help Trump. But I suspect he has already maxxed out with the “evil Democrats are out to destroy Trump” voters. There are only so many of them, and they would have to believe that Democrats somehow politicized the jury, which is quite a stretch.

Some Republicans will say that the trial was conducted in a kangaroo court, even though Trump’s attorneys had plenty of opportunities to ditch jurors they deemed to be prejudiced against him. More than 500 potential jurors were scrutinized for this trial. The Trump grovelers will argue that it ain’t over until the appeal process is completed. That looks a bit weak in light of the speed of the jury’s verdict, which is a slam dunk of a message.

If Trump starts to tank badly in poll averages, the GOP grovelfest could quickly come to an end, and they will dump him at their convention. In that event, expect amusingly dodgy comments, something like “my support was always contingent on Mr. Trump being found innocent.” Not a great look.

Republicans now have an even shorter list of credible replacement presidential candidates. Edge to Democrats in that possibility.

But that doesn’t mean that Biden will have a lock on re-election. Americans have short memories. And there is also the possibility that voters will shrug off the conviction, believing that it’s just more of the crazy polarization of our times. After all the “if-then” scenarios are parsed, nobody knows what is going to happen. Democrats should have measured responses, don’t gloat so much and play it cool.

One comment on “Are Dems Ready to Meet the Challenge of the Trump Verdict?

  1. Victor on

    People saying answering they are “less likely” to vote for Trump is convicted probably just want to look good for the pollster.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.