Failure to Launch?

Former President Donald Trump waves after delivering remarks at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster, New Jersey, on June 13, 2023. Trump appeared in court in Miami for an arraignment regarding 37 federal charges, including violations of the Espionage Act, making false statements, and conspiracy regarding his mishandling of classified material after leaving office. (Photo by Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

If you had “debating whether they would pardon their party’s presidential frontrunner” on your 2024 GOP nomination bingo card, congratulations!

We’re only a month or so into the contest in earnest and Republicans are having one helluva time getting underway. Former President Donald Trump is facing criminal charges for filching state secrets and then lying to investigators once he was caught, which one might think would be clarifying for voters looking for the best candidate to get back into the White House. But, so far at least, the party seems paralyzed. Is it likely to stay that way?

Let’s start with an essential caveat on the value of polling at this point in a presidential cycle and a sense of where we are now.

We’re about two months from the first scheduled debate, which is to say that we are still in what our friends in the business world would call the “soft launch” of the contest. Or in politics, we might better say the “Giuliani-Jeb phase,” in honor of the commanding summertime leads of the ill-fated frontrunners of 2007 and 2015.

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