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What Does Donald Trump's Indictment Mean for the 2024 Primary and Beyond?

AP Photo/Nathan Howard

It's been a little over 24 hours since former and potentially future President Donald Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury in a case pursued by progressive District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump's fellow candidates who have already declared, Vivek Ramaswamy and former Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) have condemned the unprecedented indictment, as have a whole list of other likely 2024 presidential candidates.

The likely contender's response most worth highlighting is from Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), for a variety of reasons. Not only is DeSantis almost certainly running for president, he's also the sitting governor of Florida, where Trump currently resides. 

Not only did DeSantis make clear that "Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda," he also called out Bragg's soft-on-crime policies, and how that has also been politicized when it comes to what crimes Bragg chooses to charge and not to charge. 

Yet DeSantis' statement was still not enough for some who did not let it go unnoticed that Trump was not mentioned by name.


What will the voters think, though?

The polls thus far, for the most part, have shown that Republican primary voters tend to favor Trump over DeSantis. Will that change as polls are conducted now that the indictment has happened? We'll see. It may actually help Trump as voters recognize the political crusade and the unprecedented action of charging a former president. Trump was certainly quick to respond, with Katie highlighting his statement, and countless emails have gone out to fundraise off of this in one way or another. 

A Friday morning analysis from FiveThirtyEight looked into the scenarios as to if the indictment would hurt, help, or not matter for Trump, with the indictment helping him being "a distinct possibility in the primary," as Trump "could experience a polling boost similar to a rally-around-the-flag effect that presidents sometimes experience when the nation comes under threat--except this time, Trump himself is under threat."

"Another reason why politicians often experience rally-around-the-flag effects in times of crisis: their political opponents go quiet and stop criticizing them. That looks like it’s already happening with Trump," the analysis goes on to mention about such an effect.

Not mentioned is that these potential and actual opponents are rallying around because bringing forth the charge is such a political move. 

Americans feel the same way, as reflected in an Ipsos/Reuters poll showing that 75 percent of Republicans agree, including 51 percent who say they do so "strongly," that "some members of the Democratic Party and law enforcement are working to delegitimize former President Donald Trump through politically motivated investigations." By 50-32 percent, overall respondents agree with that statement.

Madeline also covered how that same poll that 54 percent of respondents, which included 80 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of Democrats, thought the charge was "politically motivated." 

The poll was conducted March 20-21 with 1,003 adults and a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. 

A benefit to announcing early, which Trump certainly did, is the opportunity to earn endorsements, as he did from Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who also serves as the chairwoman of the House Republican Caucus; Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), whom Trump had endorsed last April and propelled to victory in the Ohio Senate primary; and Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who is running to replace retiring Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), and who likewise has the endorsement of Trump. 

They all shared their thoughts in one way or another, with Stefanik issuing a statement that was in particular strongly worded. 


The Trump campaign sent out an email highlighting a radio interview that Banks did with Tony Katz of him endorsing Trump as he spoke of "just another example of the lengths that the left will go to to weaponize government and their powers against political enemies." 

Banks went on to offer that "the thing about Donald Trump that makes him different" is that "the man does not back down" and "that's why I support Donald Trump, he doesn't back down, and he's not going to back down on this, he's going to fight back, and this is just the beginning I think of yet another chapter where Donald Trump is going to come back, he's going to come back on top in the end."

Banks had also tweeted about the indictment when the news broke. 

Townhall has reached out to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), and ramifications for those Senate races will be the subject of a future piece. The 2024 Senate map is looking particularly good for Republicans, after 2022 resulted in Democrats actually increasing their majority in the chamber by 1 seat. 

As disappointing as 2022 was, it was always going to be an uphill battle given what seats were up for reelection. Come 2024, Republicans have the potential to flip seats in Arizona, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. In his analysis for The Hill in January, Max Greenwood suggested that there "few opportunities for Democrats to go on the offensive" and that "their best targets appear to be Florida and Texas, but both states have proved elusive for Democrats in recent years." 

Florida and Texas? Good luck with that. And those look to be their best chances. 

The NRSC is also chaired by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), who won reelection in 2020 by 10 points against Democrat Steve Bullock and seems to be ready for the job. 

It's quite possible, likely even if the polls showing the support that he has are to be believed, that Trump will be on the ballot as well, making it all the more interesting and this indictment consequential. 


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