In the months since Donald Trump’s indictments started piling up, pollsters have noticed something remarkable: The dozens of criminal charges brought against the former president have seemed to boost his standing in the Republican presidential primary. Trump has widened his already commanding lead over his rivals, and in poll after poll, GOP voters have said that the charges make them more—not less—likely to vote for him again.
The dynamic has turned an infamous example of Trumpian bravado—his 2016 claim that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters”—into something approaching a prophecy. To his critics, the emerging conventional wisdom that the indictments have benefited Trump politically is a dispiriting and even dangerous notion, one that could embolden politicians of any ideological stripe to disregard the law.
Those fears, however, may be premature.
A new, broader survey of Republican voters suggests that the indictments have, in fact, dented Trump’s advantage in the primary. The study was designed by a group of university researchers who argue that pollsters have been asking the wrong questions to assess how the indictments have affected Republican voters. [Continue reading…]