Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

But Trump's Base Is Not Stuck

The Bulwark's publisher, Sarah Longwell, is back to running focus groups. She's run several of them this past summer asking over 100 people about Donald Trump's legal problems. The bottom line is that Donald Trump has 91 problems, but the base isn't one of them.

Among two-time Trump voters, 44 said they supported Trump more on account of the indictments, 48 were neutral, but only 8 supported him less. Longwell calls this the "rally round Trump effect." Before the indictments, focus group participants were breaking 44-26 for Ron DeSantis over Trump for the GOP nomination. After the indictments, it shifted dramatically to 64-25 for Trump. It is a huge change.

Part of the problem is that Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg went first. Massive strategic error, but Bragg put his own parochial interests above the country's. No one is taking that one seriously. And once people start thinking that prosecutors are completely biased, they didn't even listen to the details of later cases. It was just: "They hate Trump."

About the Mar-a-Lago case, one voter said: "If it is against the law what he did, then let's apply it equally to every else that had documents. Especially Hillary Clinton, Mike Pence, Obama, Clinton, and especially Biden." Another said: "It frustrates me that it doesn't seem to be like equal amount of resources being devoted to Hunter Biden's laptop." A third said: " When you have a current president who is siccing all of the DoJ on a potential candidate, that's never happened. Right. Yeah. Unless you're in Venezuela." A fourth one said: "It's just nakedly partisan, and, like, to me, weaponizing the FBI against a political rival is beyond the pale." A fifth one said: "It's become quite boring. You know, you hear it, okay, another one. Who cares? Every day it is something. You just block it out." A sixth said: "If he weren't running, there would be no charges. They are just trying to smear him."

About the Georgia RICO case, one voter said: "Are they going to make an example of him? What are we going to do about Bush v. Gore? That was also about trying to overturn an election." Another said: "If I were him I would feel cheated because wasn't there a lot of issues with them mailing ballots to people who have been deceased or to the wrong address?" A third said: "I haven't gone back to the recording, but I've seen the transcript and I do not believe he was asking Raffensperger to somehow manipulate the situation and come up with votes." A fourth one said: "I don't think when he said find those votes he meant manufacture votes."

Also interesting is how these double Trump voters reacted to the E. Jean Carroll verdict. One said: "He didn't rape her. He did something else. And what's $5 million to Trump?" Another said: "I don't think there is enough evidence. They blame him for everything." A third one said "Carroll is delusional." A fourth one said she's a money grubber. None of them think that Trump did anything wrong. They all think he was framed.

What is interesting is that few people are arguing the facts of the cases. Most people aren't saying "He didn't do it" or "It was legal." It was just "They are out to get him." or "I'm tired of hearing about this." That said, keep in mind that the base is a given for Trump. His problem is he needs some votes beyond that 36% or so of the population. The criminal cases are likely to hurt with those additional voters, particularly if there are convictions, even if the base holds firm. (V)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates