The fallout is just getting started

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Various observers have correctly pointed out what a shame it is that Donald Trump’s current criminal trial isn’t being televised. I would take that even further and argue that if this trial were being televised, Trump would be finished in politics already. It wouldn’t be a result of any one witness or one moment. It would be a result of the totality of the whole thing.

That said, this trial is indeed going to help finish off Trump politically – just not all at once. The verdict, assuming he’s found guilty, will indeed cost Trump significant political support. It’s true that his base won’t care. But it’s also irrelevant. They don’t matter in all of this, because their votes are already baked in, and their votes are not enough.

Polling shows that a significant number of Republicans, who are leaning toward voting for Trump in the general election, say they’ll change their minds if he’s convicted of a felony. These are the Republicans who like Trump the least to begin with, who wish he weren’t the nominee, and who have been casting protest votes for also-rans like Nikki Haley. They’re just waiting for an excuse to not have to go out and vote for Trump in November, and they’re telling us that his criminal conviction will serve as that excuse.

So there’s that. But there’s also more to it. Everything that’s going on in this trial is going to end up finding its way into political TV ads during the height of the election season. So what if there’s no video footage of Trump sleeping in court? Political action groups will run TV ads consisting of video footage of cable newscasters talking about how Trump slept his way through his trial, overlaid by tweets about him sleeping from respected news sites.

This trial, and its verdict, are just the start of the negative fallout against Trump. This kind of thing doesn’t just go away. This guy is going to come out of this trial a convicted felon who slept through his trial, and he’s still going to try to masquerade as a candidate for office? This trial will be used against Trump every single day between now and whenever he gives up the political ghost.

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