Friday, December 08, 2023


I'm a schmuck amateur blogger and I understood this months ago. I can't believe all the Very Smart People who do politics for a living didn't get it until now:

There’s a scenario many Republicans are dreading: that one day in March 2024, they’ll wake up to the news that Donald Trump has won enough delegates to secure the GOP presidential nomination.

Then, days, weeks, or months later, one jury—or several—will render a verdict that handcuffs the Republican Party to the first convicted criminal ever to run for president as a major party nominee.

Several Republican operatives and delegates who spoke to The Daily Beast relayed their increasing alarm that this nightmare will become a reality—potentially dooming the party’s hopes of defeating President Joe Biden next November.

”People need to wake up before we end up with [Trump] as our candidate,” a Republican National Committee member and longtime presidential campaign adviser told The Daily Beast, ”because we’ll end up with Biden as our president.”
No, people don't need to wake up before you end up with Trump as your candidate. People needed to wake up years ago -- probably in the immediate aftermath of January 6, when public approval of Trump was at its lowest.

But it didn't happen then for the same reason it didn't happen before that and hasn't happened since: Trump-averse Republicans know that the base adores him, so they don't want to end their careers as Republicans by opposing him.

Which means they'll address this problem -- assuming there are convictions -- the same way they addressed the problem of Trump after the Access Hollywood tape, after the release of the "perfect" Ukraine phone call, and after January 6: by closing ranks around him.

The primary way they'll do that is by echoing Trump's insistence that any conviction is the result of an unfair and politcally motivated prosecution before a biased jury, and isn't final because all the very unfair things that happened in the trial are being appealed. We've seen polls suggesting that a significant percentage of voters would rethink their support for Trump if he's convicted of a felony, so the goal will be to suggest that he hasn't really been convicted. If, at the time Trump becomes a convicted felon, he has won every primary and caucus by double digits -- which I assume will be the case -- Republicans will feel they have no choice but to say he's not really a convicted felon, just as they felt they had to say "Grab 'em by the pussy" was just "locker room talk" and the two rounds of impeachable offenses didn't warrant conviction in the Senate.

We can already tell that this will be the message because Trump-affiliated sources for the Daily Beast story think the riskiest conviction for Trump would be one that takes place in a red part of Florida:
One caveat, [a] Republican strategist and other ostensibly pro-Trump sources noted when dismissing the rest of the prosecutions against Trump, was the classified documents case in Florida.

The combination of a jury pool more favorable to Trump, along with fresh details of the former president’s handling of sensitive national security documents, could unleash a bigger wave of pressure on Republicans and conservative leaning independents to finally dump Trump. That trial, set for May, would run very close to the GOP convention in July.
Well, no, they're not going to dump Trump under any circumstances, unless he consistently falls behind Joe Biden by 15 points or more -- remember, he trailed both Biden and Hillary Clinton by double digits in a few polls in his earlier runs, and he still nearly won the Electoral College in 2020 after winning it in 2016. His level of support will need to collapse utterly before the party alienates the base by trying to dump him.

But it's clear from this that mainstream Republicans think a conviction in MAGA territory would be seen as a real conviction, which suggests that they'll spin any conviction in New York or D.C. (where a lot of Those People will be on the juries) as fake and untrustworthy. I think if they get away with that -- if, in other words, Trump's poll numbers don't drop very much after any convictions in New York or D.C. -- they'll just say the Florida verdict is equally fraudulent (we know Trump will say this) and hope for the best.

I think there won't be a conviction in Florida precisely because of the makeup of the jury pool, but even if a largely Republican jury convicts Trump, the rest of the national voter base will accept the narrative that the jury was tainted by liberalism or wokeness or whatever.

And as for independents who are currently pro-Trump, I assume the GOP propaganda message throughout the period of Trump's trials will include a heavy emphasis on steering moderates to Robert Kennedy Jr. or No Labels if Trump loses their support. I expect to see Kennedy and Joe Manchin (or Larry Hogan or whomever) on Fox News and Newsmax every few days from next spring to November. That plus "he hasn't really been convicted yet" is how the GOP will tough out Trump's trials. And I think it absolutely could work.

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