Political expert weighs in on how Trump indictment could impact 2024 presidential campaign

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 11:10 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - One University of Virginia political expert believes former president Donald Trump’s indictment could play out either way for his 2024 presidential campaign.

On Thursday, Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, prosecutors and defense lawyers said Thursday, making him the first former U.S. president to face a criminal charge.

“Republicans view it as a threat to them, not just to Donald Trump, and so they might well rally around him at least for a while,” Larry Sabato, with the UVA Center for Politics, said.

Sabato believes what is playing out now will help Trump in the primaries and create a “rally ‘round the flag effect”.

“In fact, he’s been moving up, and his main opponent Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida, has been moving down, but there’s a lot of time between now and next winter,” Sabato said.

While we may not know an answer for some time, if found guilty, Sabato believes it would damage Trump significantly in the general election and help Democrats win.

He said it would help Trump win even more if it went the other way.

“If indicted and then found innocent or at least not guilty, then it’s possible that he could win the election or at least do better than he would otherwise,” Sabato said.

Sabato said for most people, regardless of the outcome in this instance, it doesn’t seem as severe as other matters Trump is facing, like in Georgia.

“For trying to overturn the election that is to prevent the peaceful transfer of power by getting Georgia officials to quote find unquote votes that don’t exist that would have put Donald Trump over the top,” Sabato said. “That is certainly illegal.”

An investigation is also underway into Trump’s actions around January 6, 2021, and the mishandling of classified documents.

“Donald Trump will go down as the first former president in American history to be indicted,” Sabato said. “The way things have been going in American politics for decades, I doubt he will be the last former president to be indicted.”