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Trump’s legal woes will impact down-ballot voting in 2024

Jun 26, 2023

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How much will former President Trump influence down-ballot voting for GOP candidates in the 2024 election? Many Republicans are concerned Trump’s legal woes could negatively impact the chances for other GOP candidates in 2024, in the same way Trump’s involvement in the 2022 midterm elections was thought to be a factor in Republicans losing seats in the House.

Straight Arrow News contributor David Pakman believes Republicans shouldn’t underestimate Trump’s ability to turn off GOP voters and dampen voter turnout in 2024.

There are three basic scenarios that we could think about in terms of the way that Trump’s nomination attempt is going to go, and how that might relate or influence other Republicans.

The view that some are taking, which I think is a view that is extraordinarily risky, is that whatever happens in the Republican nomination, whether Trump wins or whether Trump loses, it won’t impact down-ballot Republicans in 2024.

If you are a Republican senator, up for reelection every six years, and it just so happens you’re up for reelection in November of 2024, your victory or defeat will be based solely on what’s going on in your state, your campaign, and whether Trump is the nominee and wins, Trump is the nominee and loses, or Trump is not the nominee — it won’t affect your reelection chances at all. 

I believe that that is an extraordinarily risky and short-sighted perspective.

Republican insiders, the Republican National Committee, many other Republicans who are up for reelection in 2024, meaning every member of the House, and about a third of the members of the Senate, they are all worried that Donald Trump’s indictments — two, so far, maybe a third, maybe a fourth, probably not five, so it’ll probably end up somewhere at three or four — that Trump’s indictments could actually ruin everything for all of them. 

 

And this is a really important discussion to have. And they are right to be concerned. And we are going to discuss that right now. 

 

There are three basic scenarios that we could think about in terms of the way that Trump’s nomination attempt is going to go, and how that might relate or influence other Republicans. The view that some are taking, which I think is a view that is extraordinarily risky, is that whatever happens in the Republican nomination, whether Trump wins or whether Trump loses, it won’t impact down ballot Republicans in 2024. If you are a Republican senator, up for reelection every six years, and it just so happens, you’re up for reelection in November of 2024, your victory or defeat will be based solely on what’s going on in your state, your campaign, and whether Trump is the nominee and wins, Trump is the nominee and loses, or Trump is not the nominee, it won’t affect your reelection chances at all. 

 

I believe that that is an extraordinarily risky and short-sighted perspective. I believe the more likely scenarios are some of the other ones, which I want to discuss with you now. 

 

The first possible scenario is that Donald Trump loses his attempt at, once again, being the Republican presidential nominee. This might be because he stays in until the end, but voters don’t choose him because Republican voters realize this guy’s a mess with all of these indictments, he’s off the campaign trail, he’s just tied up in court, we need somebody else and they choose somebody else. If that is the case, you may indeed have many MAGA voters who are disgusted or upset, or whatever the case may be, who either stay home or protest-vote in some other way. And it could cost Republican members of the House and Senate their reelection. 

 

That’s if Trump stays until the end and loses. Similar scenario if Trump drops out. If Trump drops out, because, similar reasoning, it’s just impossible to campaign up against all of these indictments and court dates, etc., you could similarly see a sort of revolt among some Republicans. 

 

It’s not going to be a ton, but it could be enough that it costs some Republicans down ballot their reelection campaigns in the House and/or Senate. But if Trump wins the nomination, it’s also not necessarily the best outcome for some of these Republicans in the House and Senate. It really comes down to whether they are MAGA-affiliated or not. Imagine a situation in which it is a very ugly primary. Trump indeed is under a number of indictments, but he doesn’t get out and he wins. There are enough Republicans who now are disgusted with Donald Trump, that they may say, you know, normally I would go out and vote for the president, and then check Republican all the way down the ballot. I’m so disgusted at some of my fellow Republicans that I’m just going to stay home. And that costs down ballot Republicans the race. That’s whether Trump wins or loses the eventual presidential election. It’s not a huge portion of Republicans based on the polling I’m seeing, but it is not zero either. These are all very risky scenarios for Republicans. The best scenario for Republicans down ballot is for a clean, unified Republican primary outcome. 

 

That is not the likely scenario no matter who wins. So what you are now going to start seeing, in all likelihood, and we’re already seeing it to some degree, actually, among members of the House, you’re going to start to see more of a split between the MAGA and the non-MAGA Republicans in elected office. We already had this, right? Mitt Romney has been non-MAGA for a very long time. Lauren Boebert has been MAGA for a very long time, but we’re starting to see more. We saw 5, 6, 7, 8 different Republican members of the House — I covered it on my show this past week — come out and say you know, I’ve been a supporter of the president — they call him the president, they’re talking about Trump — I’ve been a supporter of former President Trump. But this is too much. This is too much. Or some are kind of taking a cop out and saying if he gets convicted then it will be too much. You’re going to start seeing more of that. And a lot of it will be a guessing game. But the idea that what happens in the Republican presidential primary won’t impact down ballot Republicans, an extraordinarily risky perspective to take.

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