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Trump’s trial(s) and the Ariana Grande vote

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Donald Trump goes on trial in Manhattan on Monday, facing criminal charges for falsifying records related to hush money payments to a porn star.

Read that sentence again, and then read this one:

President Biden has nearly erased Donald J. Trump’s early polling advantage, amid signs that the Democratic base has begun to coalesce behind the president despite lingering doubts about the direction of the country, the economy and his age, according to a new survey by The New York Times and Siena College.

If you’re one of those “polls are meaningless” people, then this doesn’t mean anything. The rational part of the commentariat will recognize that this means that at the moment the great American public is sort of/kind of/more or less roughly/ evenly divided on the question of whether Trump or Biden should be the next president. Given that Trump doesn’t even need to come particularly close to actually getting as many votes overall as Biden, this is, ah, a bit troubling.

Now why is that? Look on my works, ye mighty:

The share of voters who view the nation as headed in the wrong direction remains a high 64 percent. Almost 80 percent of voters still rate the nation’s economic conditions as fair or poor, including a majority of Democrats. And both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump remain unpopular, for familiar reasons. Most voters think Mr. Biden is too old. A majority believe Mr. Trump has committed serious federal crimes.

Linger on those last two sentences for just a moment.

OK, here’s where my all-time favorite pop singer enters the picture, bringing with her a big bowl of hopeium:

Yet despite the potential for the Republican nominee to face jail time, only one in four voters said they were yet paying very close attention to the former president’s legal travails.

It’s utterly absurd, but the fact remains that, if Trump is convicted after the trial that starts on Monday, his chances of getting elected are going to decline radically — so radically that a normal political party would make a serious effort to replace him on the ballot. The GOP is now a cult, so that isn’t going to happen, but that’s how bad a conviction would be for Trump’s chances.

Why? Because the crucial 5% to 10% of the potential electorate that is genuinely undecided about whether to vote for Trump or Biden, or to vote at all, is the Ariana Grande vote, and the Ariana Grande vote is made up of the kind of people who would find Trump’s conviction on criminal charges to be both a shocking (because they’ve paid no attention at all) and extremely negative thing (because they’ve paid no attention at all). Keep in mind that the “this is just the political persecution of our Lord and Savior by the deep state” types are already baked into Trump’s support. Indeed that’s the core of his support, and a conviction isn’t going to change their behavior, except maybe making them a bit more violent than they would be otherwise.

But for the “swing voters?” A conviction would be utterly devastating for Trump. Conversely, an acquittal would be nearly as bad for Biden, but I honestly think the chances of that are slim to none. (The odds of a hung jury are unfortunately quite high, and it’s hard to say how that would play with the moron vote).

Anyway, the outcome of Monday’s trial could very easily decide the election, although this whole thing is so insane in so many levels that it’s hard to wrap one’s mind around it all.

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