Should New Trump Superseding Indictment Alter GOP Primary Odds?
After special counsel Jack Smith added more charges Thursday, might the Donald Trump superseding indictment alter the course of the Republican primary and 2024 election odds? Ron DeSantis fading and a bevy of alternatives are trying to get momentum. Depending on where you look though, there’s potentially immense value on the odds board at places where political betting is legal.
But we must start with Trump, who sits at 56 cents at PredictIt (equivalent to -127 odds) and -250 on DraftKings Sportsbook in Ontario to be the next Republican nominee for President of the United States.
What Is A Superseding Indictment?
Donald Trump is one of three individuals charged in a superseding indictment – the formal legal mechanism to add charges to an existent indictment without restarting the process.
In this case, the special counsel is adding charges relating to the classified documents case. Trump now faces two new obstruction of justice charges as well as another charge of willfully retaining national defense information.
It was recently announced this case would go to trial in March 2024, after Super Tuesday on the primary election schedule, but still before the end of the GOP primary. It’s worth remembering that a conviction would not legally bar the former President from serving as President in the event he were to win in November 2024, although that is entirely hypothetical at this stage. Whether or not the former President will be able to use these new charges to delay the whole case until after the 2024 election is also unclear.
That said, it seems likely he will attempt just that.
What Is Going On With Ron DeSantis?
The DeSantis campaign has been an utter disaster up to this point, making bold claims upon launch that have failed to survive first contact with a polling slump. DeSantis, who talked about winning the nomination through organizational reach and strong field operations, has laid off a third of his staff due to money troubles.
More concerning, he’s had to fire a senior aide for making a campaign video with Nazi imagery and is currently defending the controversial mandates in Florida on slavery education in schools. Florida’s teachers are now required to instruct middle-school students that enslaved people “developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
DeSantis has mind-numbingly decided to double down on the notion that the “personal benefit” of slavery extended beyond the slaveowners as his polls decline. The Governor has fallen to third place in a recent Fox Business poll of South Carolina and is perilously close to doing the same in a corresponding poll of Iowa.
With DeSantis, who had been the vessel for most anti-Trump efforts fading away, the role of leading among non-Trump candidates is starting to open.
Other Candidates Running for GOP Nomination
The fact that Vivek Ramaswamy is the one getting some betting attention at this juncture is absurd, however.
Ramaswamy is this cycle’s Pete Buttigieg – a charismatic speaker who has ambition and would like to speed up his career. A spot on the debate stage and months of campaigning will enable Vivek to elevate himself in the party – with a potential run for Ohio’s Governorship in 2026 or a potential administration job whenever they win next being possible.
The real contender to be the leading Not-Trump candidate is Tim Scott – the candidate rising to put DeSantis in third in Iowa. Scott has taken a lot of the Ted Cruz organization in Iowa, where he’s up to double digits. Momentum in the state could open the door to more fundraising, and with DeSantis falling apart, Scott is a more palatable Not-Trump than either Nikki Haley (who worked for Trump) or Mike Pence (Trump’s literal VP).
If Scott can manage to get a good result in Iowa, he could ride a home state bump in South Carolina to some momentum and a potential run at a credible result. But let’s be in no doubt – this is still Trump’s nomination.
Trump Superseding Indictment Hasn’t Changed His Primary Status
50% of Republicans in a Marquette poll this week do not believe Donald Trump had classified documents at Mar-A-Lago, a fact of which we have literal photographic and audio evidence. This is not an GOP electorate that views Donald Trump as a liability, and the only Republican with the stature and profile to potentially challenge is too busy defending education laws that include teaching slavery had benefits for the slaves themselves.
This is Trump’s nomination, because even if the classified documents trial doesn’t get delayed, the chances of a conviction BEFORE Trump has a mathematical lock on the nomination are nearly impossible. Even if he does get convicted in time for some states to still vote, there’s no guarantee that a conviction will change the minds of the primary electorate.
This Trump price on PredictIt is absurdist nonsense. There is no case that Trump is only slightly better than a coin toss to win this. The GOP electorate is still a party of people who think Trump was a good President and who view him favorably. If the GOP had a better option, this might be a different conversation, but they currently do not, even if some Republicans in Congress wish there was one.
Bet Trump accordingly.