- Democrats especially see electoral benefits for President Joe Biden if Donald Trump is impeached.
- If an indictment didn’t cost Trump the GOP primary, it would hover over his general election campaign.
- It would remind voters of his baggage and overshadow the House of Biden’s GOP investigations, they say.
President Joe Biden could find himself in uncharted waters in 2024 as he runs for re-election against the first former president to be indicted.
But Democrats see mostly positives for Biden, despite Donald Trump boasting that potential charges for an alleged hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels will help his electoral prospects.
If an indictment doesn’t cost Trump the GOP primary, it will hover above his general election campaign and serve as a reminder of his chaotic presidential administration, Democrats say. And it would overshadow the House Republicans’ investigations of Biden and his family.
Trump, who was impeached twice, bucks the perception, even among some Republicans, that he “has a lot of baggage and is a loser,” said Josh Schwerin, a former spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Hillary Clinton.
“This just adds to that baggage and reminds people how scandal-plagued he is and puts the obviously very real legal threat on top of the political scandal,” he told Insider.
Here are some takeaways about what an indictment would mean for Biden.
Republicans could nominate a weak opponent
Trump’s most ardent supporters would probably stand with him if he is indicted and indeed it is possible that other Republican primary voters will also fall in line.
Democratic pollster and adviser Brad Bannon said an impeachment against Trump would garner support from Republicans who live in a “bizarre world” and view it as an example of an “oppressive government beating up their man.”
That’s good for Biden, he said, because he would rather run against Trump than Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to enter the race.
“Anything that is good for Trump in a Republican primary is good for Biden,” Bannon said. “I just think DeSantis is a bigger threat to Biden than Trump.”
However, it is still early. And it’s unclear if Trump is the weaker opponent or if he can even win enough support from GOP primary voters to become the nominee.
Trump’s support has waned among Republicans, and “disgruntled Republican primary voters who are tired of seeing Trump and his favorite candidates lose are not going to like this,” Schwerin said.
A positive split screen for Biden
Part of Biden’s 2020 pitch to voters was that he would save them from anxiety over the chaos of the Trump administration.
An indictment of Trump in the Stormy Daniels case would reinforce the contrast “between some kind of normal, boring politics that people can ignore and the chaos and crisis-to-crisis politics of the Trump years,” said Matt Lehrich, a former Obama White House spokesperson. who founded Be Clear Communications.
If he is also indicted in Georgia for possible interference in the 2020 election, that will also put the spotlight back on the “big lie” he won, which has consistently been an unpopular message, Lehrich said.
“It would remind everyone of something that’s very unpopular about him,” Lehrich said.
An even messier GOP primaries
An indictment against Trump would likely widen the gap in the GOP primaries between the hard-core MAGA believers and establishment Republicans who want to leave Trump and worry that he will sink their electoral chances.
Senate Republicans have already told Insider that they have no problem with an ugly GOP primary because it will help them get the best candidate.
Democrats say they also welcome a nasty Republican primary, especially when Biden is expected to run without significant opposition.
“The sloppier Republicans are, the better we look in comparison,” Schwerin said.
Which House GOP investigation?
If Trump is indicted, that event will likely dominate the news for the foreseeable future — not Hunter Biden’s laptop.
That’s bad news for the GOP-led House committees investigating Biden’s son, his business dealings and the sitting president. At the very least, the GOP oversight agenda would draw less attention in the near term.
Schwerin said voters will see the surveys as a GOP political tool to distract from their own problems.
“I think it’s all going to be noise,” Schwerin said. “There’s a lot of overreach and that’s becoming more apparent as the Republican scandals mount.”
The downside: Breaking through ‘noise’ can be difficult
It’s possible that impeaching Trump would make Americans so sick of the entire political system that “they say, ‘Wrong this,'” Bannon said.
“An environment like that could hurt a sitting president if Americans would just raise their hands and say, ‘The whole system is corrupt, we need to change something,'” he said.
But people have been frustrated for years, Schwerin noted. The greater difficulty might be breaking Trump’s headlines to talk about his policy agenda.
It would probably take some creative thinking from Biden’s communications team, because Trump’s issues are “just going to suck a lot of oxygen into the room,” Lehrich said.