The Presidential Campaign Goes On

Former President Donald Trump

By Jim Ellis — Friday, March 31, 2023


Donald Trump: Indictment — Yesterday’s indictment of former President Donald Trump will undoubtedly change the presidential campaign picture, but predicting any eventuality at this early juncture of the juxtaposition between the legal and political processes is difficult.

In the past few weeks, Trump has been trending upward in national Republican primary polling. Earlier in the year, survey results were flip-flopping between he and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in terms of which man was leading on ballot tests before a national Republican electorate.

As we approached yesterday’s indictment, both the horse race numbers, ostensibly between Trump and DeSantis, and even the personal favorability indexes were showing noticeable improvement in the former president’s favor.

In fact, the recent Fox News Poll posted Trump to a 30-point national Republican advantage over Gov. DeSantis (conducted by Beacon Research and Shaw & Company Research for Fox News; March 24-27; 1,007 US registered voters; approximately 423 Republican primary voters; live interview: Trump 54; DeSantis 24; former VP Mike Pence 6; ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley 3; former Congresswoman Liz Cheney 3 percent).

It will be interesting to see just how the media coverage of the indictment, arraignment, legal arguments and eventual trial changes the political picture. There is no question that the associated events and their ultimate outcome will have at this point an undetermined major impact upon the nomination campaign’s outcome. It will doubtlessly also affect the general election contest.

What we do know is the previous early polling pattern is still present. Yesterday, a new Georgia Republican presidential primary poll was released, and we again see Gov. DeSantis performing better on a state basis than he does nationally.

WPA Intelligence released the results of the poll they conducted for the Never Back Down conservative political action committee (March 28-29; 629 likely Georgia Republican primary voters) and the ballot test results give Gov. DeSantis a one-point lead over former President Trump within the proposed field; but, his advantage swells to 10 points when the governor and ex-president are isolated before the Georgia survey universe.

Numbers-wise within the Georgia poll, DeSantis’ lead is 37-36-8-4-3-1-1 percent over Trump, Cheney, Haley, Pence, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, respectively, according to the WPA results. In the one-on-one test, the DeSantis margin over Trump is 48-38 percent.

As previously stated, this poll reaffirms the recurring national pattern. While Trump may be doing very well in national political polls, Gov. DeSantis generally improves his campaign standing within the states.

As we know, the presidential nomination is determined through the states and within the process of attracting delegate votes. Without a national primary, the countrywide polling merely tests popularity, and to a large extent name identification but has no tangible significance regarding which candidate will ultimately win the party nomination.

While Trump may currently be running away with the race in current national polling, the data generated from these studies, at least in terms of ballot standing vis-à-vis the party nomination, is not particularly noteworthy.

Within our cumulative total of state polls conducted from the 2022 general election to the present, we see that 48 research studies have been recorded covering 23 states. Within the 48 surveys, Gov. DeSantis has actually led in 30 of the ballot tests as compared to just 18 for Trump. Clearly, the delegate count associated with these polls, if they proved an accurate depiction as to how Republicans may vote in their individual primary elections, would also favor the Florida governor.

The Trump indictment will certainly change the campaign’s trajectory. While it is likely to give the former president a boost in the immediate short run, that may or may not be the case over the long term. Therefore, Trump and the other Republican candidates will be forced to traverse very turbulent political waters in the coming months.

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