The polling “disaster” that is beginning to terrify the Trump team

in the middle Last year, many Donald TrumpTrump’s closest advisers, including some of his 2024 campaign staff, have begun to notice an ominous trend in independent polls and in internal GOP polling data: A large share of swing voters in key states — even some Republicans — say they don’t want to vote. For a newly convicted felon.

The trend has spooked them enough that, in recent months, some of those officials and political allies have directly warned Trump of a potential disaster looming in his 2024 presidential bid, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said. Rolling Stone.

For the most part, Trump has ignored such warnings, as he and his campaign officials have publicly relied on bluster and their messages that… President Joe BidenHis re-election chances are unequivocally doomed in November. However, Trump and his legal team are still there And work hard to delay his criminal trialHopefully he can secure the presidency again — and the power to dismiss cases — before any potential convictions.

They have had at least some success: On Friday, the judge in Trump’s election subversion case in Washington, D.C., announced that the trial would not be held on March 4, as originally scheduled, and would be rescheduled for a later date.

Republicans close to the former president and current GOP 2024 nominee have been carefully tracking poll results — especially in a handful of states that will decide the expected rematch between Biden and Trump — of potential swing voters who say they are open to lobbying for Trump. , with a big warning. Many survey respondents, including a critical mass of self-identified independents, continue to say they will not vote for Trump if a jury returns a guilty verdict before the election in one of the criminal cases against him.

In a number of national and state polls, this variable — whether Trump has been convicted criminally — jeopardizes Trump’s moderate lead. For months, this trend has continued to show up in a variety of high-quality polls, both public and private, including recent polls Also this week.

But even as the MAGA elite publicly insist that Biden is historically weak as an incumbent, the polling trend has become more difficult for Trump aides to ignore, according to interviews with seven knowledgeable sources such as conservative activists close to Trump 2024, officials working on the former president’s campaign, and activists The old Republican Party, and Trump’s allies in the right-wing media.

“(Late last year) I mentioned to him how the polls were saying a conviction would hit him with some voters he needed to keep in his column to win,” says a source who has spoken to Trump about 2024 several times. “I said it’s something we should take seriously, but not necessarily a fatal blow… But in my thoughts, I kept thinking: ‘It’s going to be a fucking disaster.’ But we’ll find out, I guess. Hopefully people will lie to the pollsters.”

Within the upper echelons of the Trump team, there is a range of opinions about what exactly these numbers mean. Some say it is too early, that it is all theoretical and therefore perhaps just a reconnaissance mirage. Others feel anxious, but they don’t set their hair on fire. Some privately say a criminal conviction could be fatal to Trump’s chances of reoccupying the White House.

says another close Trump ally Rolling Stone That even though there are so many variables and Biden’s polls are uniquely terrible, they can’t shake the feeling that one day they will view this polling trend as a bright red warning sign — one that could be compared to ominous signs. She saw her as Trump’s rival in the 2016 elections for several months before her defeat.

As this Trump ally points out, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign was derailed in part by the investigation by former FBI Director James Comey. The ally notes that Clinton “was being watched by (FBI Director James) Comey in the 2016 campaign. That wasn’t the only thing that brought her down, but it was a significant thing…her campaign was compromised for months. Will a criminal conviction be a Hillary-Comey moment?” “If it ends up being a (guilty) before the election? It’s a question that’s kind of haunted me, and I’ve discussed it with some members of President Trump’s campaign and people that the (former) president listens to.”

says Stephen Cheung, Trump’s spokesman Rolling Stone“These devious witch hunts run by Joe Biden, with the help of the fake mainstream media, are just desperate attempts at election interference designed to try to disenfranchise voters as President Trump dominates the polls. These are all despicable policies by the president’s enemies.” Trump because they will do everything in their power, including using lawfare as a weapon, to stop the presumptive Republican nominee for president and the next president of the United States.

Throughout the 2024 Republican presidential primaries, Trump’s looming criminal liability has proven more of a blessing than a problem, as his rivals have proven eager to repeat Trump’s claims that he is being unfairly persecuted. Throughout these issues, Trump’s most loyal fans have stuck with him as well. The former president’s best fundraisers have got it all After his arrest and arrest In various trials against him, the largest of which was after he was detained and photographed in an election conspiracy case in Fulton County, Georgia.

But beyond his most ardent supporters, polls suggest Trump will have difficulty maintaining support among his Republican outer circle if he is convicted in one of his trials.

“It always seems like Democrats have found the perfect tool to get the upper hand in the 2024 election. Trump’s prosecutions clearly boosted him in the primaries, but the data has consistently shown that they are likely to be deadly for him among the swing voters he needs to win the general election, Especially if there is a conviction.A former Trump 2020 campaign official who previously served as a senior official at Never Back Down, a super PAC supporting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ failed presidential campaign.

The data has varied over time and across polling companies, but the message remains the same: A conviction could prompt a significant number of Republicans to rethink their support. In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s arrest in the special counsel’s election conspiracy case, Nearly half of Republicans surveyed By Reuters/Ipsos They said they would not vote for him if he was convicted. A similar poll after the election charges brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith showed that most voters believed the charges against Trump were “serious“And he should Go to prison If he is proven guilty.

The percentage of Republicans who said they would not vote for Trump if he were convicted declined to that point 31 percent in a Reuters/Ipsos poll in December, but he still poses a serious threat to Trump’s 2024 campaign.

The impact of conviction may be more pronounced among voters in key swing states that Trump needs to win in order to defeat Biden. according to Polling by Bloomberg News and Morning Consult Released Wednesday, more than half of voters in seven key battleground states say a conviction would prevent them from casting ballots for Trump. Among voters who have negative opinions of both candidates, this percentage rises to 79%.

Of course, not everyone in Trump’s orbit is predicting doom in this regard.

“The criminal prosecutions of Donald Trump have only strengthened him in this election,” says Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor who has been a religious adviser to Trump for years. “How many times have we heard predictions that indictments would destroy his campaign?”

“Some political consultants, of course, get paid to be very anxious and cautious,” Jeffress continues. It’s a political campaign with a lot of moving parts. I know what some of the polls are saying, but I’m confident that independent voters, by Election Day, will look at the complete collapse and rot that Biden has brought and decide we need to vote for someone who made the country strong. “I was with Donald Trump (on Thursday), and I told him that his evangelical support, for example, has never looked stronger — even compared to 2020 and 2016.”

Aside from the conviction, the daily spectacle discussing Trump’s 2020 election conspiracy theories as the cases head to trial could also impact Trump’s performance in his anticipated rematch with Biden. Trump-backed candidates who have made Trump’s “Big Lie” about the 2020 presidential election a feature of their candidacies tend to do poorly in the 2022 midterms, suggesting voters are tired of the issue. But the former president already did that He pressed his lawyer To use his upcoming trial for D.C. election sabotage as a platform to further push his election lies.

If Trump defeats Biden in the general election this year, he will do it again Obtaining presidential immunity from criminal prosecutionHis administration could effectively wipe out the federal cases against him — and And maybe keep him out of prison. In fact, Trump has been suggesting to those close to him for years that he needs to become president again in part That’s very privileged.

“This campaign is focused on the mission at hand: winning,” says Cheung, Trump’s spokesman. “We have crushed the competition and continue to dominate the crooked Joe in every battleground state because voters are fed up (and) fed up with the last four years of a failed presidency, and they know that President Trump is the only person who can deliver.” Return of the country.”

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