Monday, January 15, 2024


CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports:

You're thinking, "So what? Sununu is a Republican. Of course he says he'll keep backing Trump if Trump is the nominee." But Sununu (who endorsed Nikki Haley last month) is a Republican in a state that voted Democratic in the last five presidential elections, and seven of the last eight. He's the governor of the one state where Trump's lead in some primary polls is in the single digits. You'd think if any Republican could get away with saying "Not if he's convicted" -- or even dodging the question by saying, "Let's wait and see how this plays out" -- it would be Sununu.

But even Sununu doesn't have the backbone to condition his support for Trump on Trump remaining felony-free. Which is why I believe that no Republican officeholder will reconsider support for Trump after one or more felony convictions.

You may think that doesn't matter, but here's why it does.

Trump won't win in November if his vote is limited to MAGA zealots and Republican diehards. He needs some swing voters. The polls -- yes, yes, I know you don't believe them -- suggest that he has quite a few swing voters now.

We know that the Republican Party is full of feral extremists and conspiratorial headcases. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Lauren Boebert. Matt Gaetz. Paul Gosar. Jim Jordan. But when swing voters think of the Republican Party, many of them think of the sober, moderate-seeming Republicans who appear on political talk shows and appear to be sincerely interested in governing. Americans generally don't believe that the Republican Party is extreme, and those people are the reason why.

If (when?) Trump is convicted, of course Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jim Jordan will say that he was the victim of a corrupt and out-of-control justice system and the conviction will absolutely be overturned on appeal. That doesn't matter. They're preaching to the choir. The people who admire them are Trump diehards.

But when people like Sununu, Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott, and Marco Rubio say exactly the same thing -- and they all will -- that will tell swing voters that Trump's conviction is not the last word on the subject, and that the real danger to democracy is the prosecution, not the guilty defendant.

All they need to do is create doubts about the process. And they will -- all of them. No one will say, "I was prepared to support Donald Trump in the November election, but I can no longer do so in good conscience."

Will a conviction hurt Trump in the polls? Sure -- but it will probably hurt him a lot less than you expect, for this reason.

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