Trump and RNC allies treating each indictment as 'a solar eclipse-like event': report
The dozens of criminal charges filed against twice-impeached former President Donald Trump have become central to fundraising efforts by his 2024 reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee, Jonathan Swan, Ruth Igielnik, Shane Goldmacher, and Maggie Haberman reported in The New York Times on Sunday.
"Donors sent checks. Fox News changed its tune. The party apparatus rushed to defend Mr. Trump. And the polls went up — and up. These series of falling dominoes — call it the indictment effect — can be measured in ways that reveal much about the state of the Republican Party," the Times correspondents wrote.
"To examine the phenomenon," they continued, "The New York Times reviewed national and early state polls, interviewed Republican primary voters, examined federal campaign finance records, analyzed hundreds of party emails, scrutinized the shifts in conservative media coverage and talked to operatives inside the campaigns of Mr. Trump's rivals."
For instance, the Times explained, attention toward Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — who was expected to give Trump a run for his money in the GOP primary contest — plummeted after Trump was indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Jr. in March 2023.
"Programming across conservative media centered on the idea that Mr. Trump was the victim of a justice system hijacked by Democrats. Mr. DeSantis's fight against 'wokeness' became passé — a matter of small stakes when set against Mr. Trump's potential incarceration," the Times said, noting that airtime dedicated to Trump began "following a pattern."
Trumpworld, the Times recalled, then started to "treat appearances exactly as they would campaign events — choreographing visuals down to minute details and working with all the networks, including those Mr. Trump has pilloried as 'fake news,' such as CNN."
Whenever a new Trump story broke — which one adviser described as "a solar eclipse-like event" — the RNC and Trump's rivals ended up "responding to the news on Mr. Trump's terms," per the Times. This approach quickly became "the entire official structure of the Republican Party."
Raising money has also been a net positive for Trump, with the Times learning that "a stunning 40 percent of every dollar Mr. Trump raised online in the first six months of this year was collected in the two one-week periods around his first indictments."
Although Trump's "advisers are aware the indictments may be less helpful to him politically in a general election than in a primary, "the Timesfound, "for now, they see the criminal charges as helping him against other Republicans."
Meanwhile, "Trump gained substantial support in primary polling around his indictment in the spring — increasing about 9 percentage points in polling averages in the weeks following his announcement on Truth Social that he expected to be arrested," the Times added.
"More than half of Republicans — including 77 percent of self-identified MAGA Republicans — said the indictments and investigations against Mr. Trump were an attack on people like them, according to a CBS News/YouGov poll taken soon after the most recent indictment," the Times stressed. "And 86 percent of Republicans felt the indictments were an attempt to stop Mr. Trump from campaigning."
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