Election 2024 /

WSJ: Trump’s Trials Are a Political Gift to His Campaign The Democrats’ lawfare strategy appears to be backfiring as swing voters turn against Joe Biden.

  |   By Polling+ Staff

(Photo by Curtis Means-Pool/Getty Images)

Trump’s Trials Are a Political Gift to His Campaign

The Democrats’ lawfare strategy appears to be backfiring as swing voters turn against Joe Biden.

The Dems gift to Trump. The Wall Street Journal’s Gerard Baker writes:

“As Donald Trump works to untangle himself from the latest legal knots his opponents have tied for him, a critical question for the presidential election is this: Are Americans who say they plan to vote for the former president doing so in spite or because of the sustained lawfare campaign he faces up to (and possibly beyond) Election Day?

There’s always been a solid core of Mr. Trump’s voters for whom every legal arrow fired his way is an additional incentive to support him against overzealous opponents. But for President Biden to prevail, there has to be a significant number of voters for whom the alleged wrongs and the doubts they raise about Mr. Trump’s suitability for office will eventually supersede whatever reasons they have now for voting for the Republican nominee.

The bleak news for the Democrats is that the polling evidence seems to suggest that the answer is, in fact, both—different sets of voters are ready to vote for the Republican in spite and because of his legal woes. The aggressive efforts by prosecutors to confiscate his money and send him to prison are only bolstering his standing with, and improving likely turnout among, Republicans. But crucially, at least for now, those efforts are failing to convince independent voters to elevate the doubts they have about him over the many reasons they have for supporting him.

Despite a solid dissenting minority in the Republican primaries, polling data suggest Mr. Trump is still on course to sweep up all but a tiny number of Republican voters in November. A Grinnell College survey last week, helmed by the widely respected pollster Ann Selzer, showed Mr. Trump winning 83% of registered Republicans—almost identical to the proportion of Democrats saying they will vote for Mr. Biden. When you remove the don’t knows, both candidates’ support among their own voters rises to more than 90%.

The multipronged lawfare effort against Mr. Trump seems to be strengthening Republican determination to back him. And the sequence in which the cases are unfolding also looks likely to benefit Mr. Trump. While we await the outcome of a Supreme Court decision in one of the cases brought by Jack Smith, the federal special counsel, the trio of dubious cases brought by Democratic state prosecutors are playing out in ways that are doing nothing for the reputations of Letitia James, Alvin Bragg and Fani Willis.

For zealots, nothing exceeds like excess. Mr. Trump’s many enemies may love the sight of him scrambling to avoid theseizure of his assets by Ms. James, but I suspect to a wider audience the spectacle of a Democratic attorney general in a Democratic state executing an order from a Democratic judge to appropriate hundreds of millions of dollars belonging to the Republican presidential candidate is an unwholesome one. Mr. Bragg’s novel use of state law to prosecute a federal crime and Ms. Willis’s very visible personal entanglements only reinforce the sense among Republicans that this is all unequal justice.

A Politico/Ipsos poll last week found that if Mr. Trump were convicted in Mr. Bragg’s criminal trial, due to start next month, almost four times as many Republicans said it would make them more likely to support him than less likely.

But what about independent voters? There’s certainly evidence that they don’t see Mr. Trump as the innocent victim he and his supporters claim. That same Politico/Ipsos poll found four times as many independents said a conviction would make them less likely than more likely to vote for Mr. Trump. But there’s plenty of reason to think that their doubts about the Republican pale when they are asked to think about their other concerns about the country.

These voters seem to be prepared to look past Mr. Trump’s potentially blotted legal record if he can set the country on a better path as president. The Grinnell poll showed him leading Mr. Biden 43% to 27% among independent voters. Other polls explain why. An Economist/YouGov survey indicated that only 12% of independents think the country is on the right track, only 23% approve of the job Mr. Biden is doing, and large majorities disapprove of his performance on the key issues—66% on immigration; 64% on inflation; 59% on jobs and the economy and 57% on crime.

As Mr. Biden’s approval numbers continue to flirt with historic lows, as the clock ticks down to Election Day, and as wave after wave of civil and criminal proceedings wash over the Trump campaign, Mr. Biden seems to believe that presenting Mr. Trump as the enemy of democracy is his route to victory.

But there is—at least for now, ahead of any conclusions to the various cases against Mr. Trump—a vast disconnect between the way the political class and most of the media think about this election and the way the voters do. This unprecedented lawfare campaign seems to be only energizing the Trump-friendly and doing very little to persuade the Trump-skeptical.”

It’s enough to make one wonder if Trump’s legal enemies are not secretly on his campaign payroll.