Authored by Ryan Morgan via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Former President Donald Trump is in a stronger position so far in the 2024 Republican presidential primary race than he was in the 2016 presidential primary cycle, according to former Republican campaign strategist Matthew Dowd.
Mr. Dowd, who served as the chief strategist on George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign, evaluated the current Republican presidential primary field during a Tuesday panel discussion on MSNBC’s “Lindsey Reiser Reports” program. Mr. Dowd’s political loyalties have shifted since serving on Mr. Bush’s re-election campaign, and in 2021 he entered the race to become the Texas lieutenant governor, running a failed campaign on the Democratic ticket.
“Eight years ago, when Donald Trump first ran, Donald Trump was at 14 or 15 percent in the polls,” Mr. Dowd said. “Today he’s at 50 or 60 percent in the polls. He’s in a much more dominant position—Donald Trump—than he was in 2015 and 2016 when he still won the nomination in this process.”
Mr. Trump is the frontrunner in the RealClearPolitics Republican presidential primary polling average. With polling data across the month of June, Mr. Trump has the support of 52.4 percent of Republican primary voters across the polling average, compared to the second top Republican candidate—Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—at 21.5 percent.
Mr. Dowd noted Mr. DeSantis won reelection in Florida “overwhelmingly,” securing a 19-point margin against his Democratic opponent. Yet, Mr. Dowd said, the Republican Florida governor “can’t seem to do anything when he goes out” of Florida.
NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Ali Vitali, who was also on the MSNBC panel discussion, added that the growing field of Republican presidential candidates is also potentially helping Mr. Trump.
“I think that the Trump campaign perspective frankly, is the more the merrier,” Ms. Vitali said adding that “the more people who are trying to counter Trump, the more ways the non Trump vote gets split up.”
Mr. Dowd said the Republican presidential primary is already shaping up as though Trump is the “incumbent.”
“The problem for Ron DeSantis, I think, and anybody else running in this race, it’s really not about them, but will some external event happen? Something that was some legal cause or something else happen that gives them a window where they can actually succeed? Because without it, I don’t see how they do,” Mr. Dowd said.
Mr. Dowd’s comments about an “external event” or some “legal cause” changing the course of the race may be in reference to the fact that Mr. Trump is facing multiple criminal indictments and investigations. Mr. Trump was indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in April on allegations he falsified his business records in order to conceal an alleged hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. The former president and leading Republican candidate was indicted again in June, this time in federal court by Special Counsel Jack Smith, on allegations he improperly retained national defense documents after his presidency and obstructed government efforts to retrieve those documents.
Trump’s Post-Indictment Polling Rise
While the indictments against Mr. Trump could pose a legal peril for the 2024 Republican frontrunner, so far they’ve correlated to a boost in Mr. Trump’s popularity among Republican primary voters.
Mr. Trump led Mr. DeSantis by around 15 points in the RCP polling average throughout the month of March. That lead began to expand in April after the Manhattan indictment.
The former president again touted a jump in his poll numbers and fundraising after the federal charges brought by Mr. Smith.
“As far as this joke of an indictment, it’s a horrible thing. It’s a horrible thing for this country,” Mr. Trump said at a June 10 rally following the federal indictment. “I mean, the only good thing about it is it’s driven my poll numbers way up. Can you believe it?”
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