Keller @ Large: Donald Trump indictment a big boost to his 2024 campaign
BOSTON - An Associated Press story on the indictment of former President Donald Trump calls the move "a jolt" to his bid for a second term in 2024.
It's a jolt alright. But not a negative one.
If history is any guide, this case will be manna from heaven for Trump's primary campaign.
We've already seen rising support for him among likely GOP primary voters in recent days as he and his allies have railed against the Manhattan District Attorney and promoted their longstanding view that the "deep state" is determined to take down Trump by any means. And the results of a just-released Quinnipiac poll suggest the Stormy Daniels affair may be the least politically toxic of the multiple legal problems engulfing Trump.
A narrow majority - 55 percent - thought the apparent accusations of falsified business records and hush money payments were serious. (Thirty-two percent termed them "very serious," 23 percent said they were "somewhat serious.") But overall 62 percent thought the case was "mainly motivated by politics" rather than the law. And while that result was driven by the eye-popping 93% of Republicans who see it that way, a solid 70% of independents agreed, as did even 29% of Democrats.
The "witch hunt" narrative - with a direct tie to the 2024 presidential contest driven by Trump's recently-growing poll numbers - will be hammered home on the right in the coming weeks and months as this case drags on. That will drain the oxygen from any other topic in the narrow political universe of GOP primary voters, and force every Trump challenger to both address the issue (and risk the wrath of that 93% if they take the case seriously) and scramble for scraps of attention.
It's conceivable that the details of the DA's case might prove so compelling that they let some of the air out of this balloon, or - heaven forbid - spark violent reactions from Trump supporters and recast the story. But haven't we seen Trump time and again capitalize on attacks and whip up the right to his own political benefit?
The Quinnipiac poll tells us that even after everything's that happened - the attempted extortion of political favors from Ukraine in exchange for weaponry, the effort to cajole the Georgia Secretary of State into "finding" enough votes to swing the state back to Trump, and the incitement of the mob attack on the US Capitol and the electoral process, and the two impeachments as a result - more than nine in ten Republicans are still ready to side with Trump in a criminal case of which they know little.
Yes, Trump 2024 got a jolt Thursday - the kind of caffeine boost that's going to keep his detractors within the GOP up at night wondering if this supremely flawed candidate is now on a glide path toward a third presidential nomination.
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