Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Trump Is Running a Base-only Campaign--Again

Has Donald Trump adjusted his campaign, post-conviction? In a way, yes, but in a way, no. He has decided to just ignore moderates and independents and focus on juicing turnout of his base. He was always base-focused, but now it is more than ever. He is doubling down on how the 2020 election was stolen and how the courts are rigged against him. Running a campaign based on these selling points is not going to fly with many independents and moderates, but he thinks that if he can get every marginal Trump supporter to the polls, that will do the job. Polls have shown that a fair number of people who rarely vote do indeed support him, so getting them worked up into a frenzy such that they vote this time is a plausible strategy. Whether alienating moderates is a good idea is something we won't know for a while.

This is probably the first presidential election in history in which the parties are not offering their competing visions for the future. Instead, they are offering competing visions of the past.

Recently, Trump said that if his verdict is not overturned on appeal, "We are not going to have a country." He also said that revenge is justified, something that probably many of his supporters believe. After all, if you were cheated out of the presidency, can't you get even? John Watson, a former chair of the Georgia Republican Party, said: "The former president is never going to get away from those components of his rhetoric. He has made a decision that this is how he wants to litigate this election." Polling so far hasn't been very clear one way or another. Siena College did a national poll before and after the trial and Joe Biden picked up 2 points. That doesn't mean anything. It's just statistical noise. However, 56% of adults believe the trial was fair, so Trump's constant harping on how it was rigged may not go over well with them. It takes time for these things to settle.

Sarah Longwell, publisher of The Bulwark, said: "Trump has not figured out how to appeal to more center-right voters, and I think he doesn't think he has to. I think he thinks that frustration with Biden and the economy is enough to sort of drive these college-educated suburban swing voters back to him." However, Longwell ran a focus group with nine two-time Trump voters the day after Trump's conviction. All of them were now open to voting against him (which could mean voting for a third-party candidate).

One thing Trump has clearly noticed is that his give-the-base-enough-red-meat-for-them-to-have-a massive-heart-attack strategy prompts the base to shower him with money. The Trump campaign claims it raised a staggering $141 million in the days following the verdict. There is no reason to doubt that, if the official total filed for Q2 in July comes in at, say, $70 million, no one will believe interim figures at all going forward. The money is surely all coming from true-blue supporters, but it can be spent in swing states to try to either get doubters off the fence or goose turnout of marginal voters who support Trump. (V)

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