Many have predicted that if Trump is arrested over bogus charges, it will boost his popularity and propel him back to the White House.
“I believe this will catapult him into the White House,” Trump Defense Lawyer Joe Tacopina predicted.
“If they handcuff Trump, he is your next president,” cartoonist Scott Adams agreed.
It’s not just people on the right, either. Last week, Twitter CEO Elon Musk tweeted that if he is arrested, “Trump will be re-elected in a landslide victory.”
“Are you guys really going to arrest Trump?” Chris Rock asked during the Mark Twain Prize ceremony at the Kennedy Center earlier this week. “Do you know this is only going to make him more popular?
There is ample evidence that these predictions were rooted in reality. Last year after the unprecedented raid on Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s approval ratings went up, not down. When Democrats impeached Trump over a phone call, his approval ratings also went up.
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But are the predictions about Trump and 2024 correct? Will Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation into his payment to Stormy Daniels in 2016 improve his chances of victory?
So far, it looks that way.
According to a recent Rasmussen survey, the public’s opinion of former President Donald Trump has improved, despite facing potential arrest, which was allegedly going to happen as soon as Tuesday, though now may not be until at least next week.
The survey found that 52% of likely voters now view Trump favorably, while 44% disapprove of him.
Other polls show a similar trend.
In the latest Morning Consult poll, Trump’s advantage over Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) has expanded.
“As Trump awaits potential indictment on charges related to a 2016 hush money scheme with adult film star Stormy Daniels, he has posted one of his largest polling leads in the 2024 Republican primary,” the Morning Consult explains. “The latest survey shows 54% of potential primary voters support the former president, compared with 26% who are backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, tying his expected opponent’s lowest level of support since tracking began in December.”
Despite the apparent rally effect behind Trump, the New York Times is trying to quell concern among the left that the possible indictment could, as Elon Musk predicted, result in Trump winning in a “landslide victory.”
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“Yes, there really could be short-term gains for Mr. Trump if Republicans rally to his defense. Still, it’s a little much to argue that many Republicans who don’t support him for the nomination today would be far likelier to back him after an indictment,” argues Nate Cohn. “It could certainly energize his base, but an indictment would reinforce some of the reasons other Republicans are reluctant to back him in the first place. It’s not as if Mr. Trump became a juggernaut after the F.B.I. search of Mar-a-Lago.”
While this is a fair assessment, the Democrats’ efforts to pin the January 6 Capitol riot on him haven’t succeeded in stopping Trump from being a viable candidate for the presidency in 2024, and a partisan investigation and indictment evokes fear of a partisan justice system.
Trump is already using the possibility of being arrested to raise funds and rally his base. This could prove to be a powerful campaign message in 2024, much like his “outsider” persona that resonated with voters in 2016.