If Trump is convicted, an election win evaporates for Republicans

There is no more painful pang than that felt by those who enter the arena as the favorite only to leave it shell-shocked.

Remember the looks on everyone’s faces at Hillary Clinton’s election-night extravaganza back in 2016?

Eight years later, it looks increasingly likely Republicans may experience the same sort of unhappy surprise come November.

Former President Donald Trump is seemingly on a glide path to reprise his role as the GOP standard-bearer, and Trump’s supporters are bullish on his chances of reprising his role as commander in chief.

A surface-level analysis might give only more reasons for such optimism.

After all, Trump has built up a healthy lead over President Biden in the bulk of national and swing-state polls conducted over the last few months.

But make no mistake: The Trump train’s check-engine light is on.

Not because it’s beset by just one small defect — it’s plagued by irreparable ones.

At the root of all of these problems are Trump’s legal issues.

An NBC poll released over the weekend suggests Trump boasts a 5-point national lead over Biden.

But there’s a fist concealed by the velvet glove of this topline result.

If Trump is convicted of a felony this year, his lead would turn into a 2-point deficit.

The former president is staring down the barrel of four separate trials after the DC Circuit Court of Appeals struck down his outlandish claim to immunity Tuesday morning, so such a conviction is a distinct possibility.

And realistically, the political consequences of Trump having criminal penalties imposed on him are likely to be even more sweeping than those captured by the NBC survey.

The media will cover it ceaselessly, to the exclusion of the issues Republicans hope the election hinges on.

Some voters will consider this unfair, the trials politically motivated, and exactly the scenario for which Democrats have pushed. Nevertheless, it is the reality.

The result will be a freefall in the polls for not just Trump but the Republicans up and down the ballot who feel compelled to march in lockstep with him.

Right now, the public trusts Trump to handle a wide range of issues — from immigration to crime to the economy to international affairs — better than Biden can.

This is the result not of unshakable trust in Trump but anger at Biden for replacing his predecessor’s personality-based chaos with policy-induced disorder reflected in prices at the grocery store, induced by an unserious approach to the border crisis and invited by his self-evident weakness abroad.

Nominating Trump risks limiting the upside of and potentially even forfeiting this key advantage Republicans have over Biden.

At the end of 2023, the Republican National Committee had just $8 million in cash on hand (it had $72 million heading into 2020).

It turns out losing elections and spending party money on Trump’s legal bills is a quick and effective way to persuade donors to close their checkbooks.

And speaking of those bills, Federal Election Commission reports indicate Trump’s own political operation has spent around $60 million raised ostensibly to help elect him president on defending him in court.

His Save America PAC has only $5 million on hand with the election just nine months away, and his legal bills show no sign of coming down.

Put it all together and what do you have?

A candidate who is accused of serious crimes and more worried about staving off jail time than winning the White House.

If Biden ultimately prevails, he’ll have his opponents’ foolishness, not his allies’ genius, to thank.

Nikki Haley is a capable conservative leader running an energetic campaign, telling voters the truth about Trump’s defects and lapping Biden (whereas Trump only edges him out and even then conditionally) in the polls.

Those who understand the election’s stakes ought to reconsider casting her aside to coronate a walking, talking political liability

Because for Republicans, the worst part about falling in November would be they willingly chose to do so.

Isaac Schorr is a staff writer at Mediaite.

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