May 26, 2024

Former President Trump is showing few signs of faltering in his bid for the GOP nomination even as his legal challenges mount. 

The former president was hit with his fourth indictment late Monday night after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis charged Trump in connection with his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.

That followed three other indictments leveled against Trump in the past several months, two of which are at the federal level. 

While some Republican operatives say Trump’s legal challenges are a concern, many argue the controversies won’t moving the needle when it comes to the former president’s standing in the race. 

“I would say the number of indictments nor does the content of the indictment have any impact on Trump’s polling numbers,” said Arizona-based GOP strategist and Trump campaign alum Brian Seitchik.

“The only issue that could shake Trump voters away is a piercing of his Teflon armor,” he continued. “If he loses in either Iowa or New Hampshire, I suspect the national numbers would change rapidly.”

Trump was indicted earlier this year in three separate probes: one concerning an alleged hush money payment to an adult film actress; once concerning his alleged mishandling of classified documents; and one concerned with the aftermath of the 2020 election, including the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.

The fourth and latest indictment was the result of a probe overseen by Willis, who began her investigation in 2021 following revelations of a call in which Trump suggested to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger that he help overturn his loss to President Biden.

The former president spent much of Monday railing against the Fulton County probe on his Truth Social platform.

“I just hope Republicans, and the people of our now failing Nation, see what is happening to our Democracy and Freedom,” Trump wrote. “A sitting President has INDICTED, in many different forms and locals, his political opponent, who is substantially leading him in the Polls. NOTHING LIKE THIS HAS EVER HAPPENED BEFORE. OUR COUNTRY CAN NEVER LET THIS STAND!”

New York Times/Siena College poll released late last month found only 17 percent of likely GOP primary voters believe Trump committed serious federal crimes, while 71 percent said he did not. 

Saul Anuzis, a Republican strategist and former Michigan GOP chairman, suggested the latest indictment would do little to move the needle when it came to Republican primary voters.

“I think that those who want to move on have already been moving on, right?” Anuzis said. “I mean, this may be a confirmation. This may be another excuse.”

“Most of these voters have already decided or are inclined to have already moved on,” he added. “The hardcore Trump voters are not being moved by these, at least not at this time, or at least I haven’t seen it at this time based on the initial indictments.”

But he also argued that whatever their feelings about Trump, Republicans generally view the indictments as politicized. 

“I just think people are looking at it on the Republican side as being way too politicized, that these prosecutions are basically a witch hunt, whether they agree or disagree with President Trump,” Anuzis said.

Still, some recent polling suggests the former president could see an erosion in support among Republicans. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National Poll released in late July found that 41 percent of Republicans said Trump had done nothing wrong — a drop from 50 percent from a similar poll taken in June. 

There are also signs that at least a segment of former Trump voters are frustrated by what is often described as the “drama” surrounding the ex-president.

“He’s got so much baggage,” Terri O’Brien, who voted for Trump in 2020, told The Hill over the weekend during the Iowa State Fair, where the former president and other 2024 candidates made appearances. “And you know with all the legalities of his situation I’m like, I don’t think he can get elected if he were to run against … Biden.”

Joe Budd, of Palm Beach County, Fla., said he was an early supporter of Trump and was a motorcade driver for the former president. But Budd said while visiting the fair that he was backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this cycle.

“The drama’s too much; I just don’t think he can win a general election,” Budd said. 

Other Republicans believe that while the indictments might not make a dent against Trump now, they could have an impact in the months ahead.

“I don’t think there’s going to be much movement off of that indictment,” said GOP strategist Keith Naughton, referring to the potential Georgia charges. “I think that as the months go on, you’re probably going to see some erosion of Trump’s support. It’s really hard to say how much.”

For now, though, some Republican voters choosing their next candidate are brushing off the swirling controversies, including Kelly Millard of Ankeny, Iowa, who’s deciding between Trump and DeSantis. 

“I think it’s just noise, it’s not really changing my thoughts right now,” Millard said. 

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