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The Mar-a-Lago raid gave Republicans hope for the future

President Trump’s response to the FBI may not exactly be helpful to the Republican Party.

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Serious questions remain unanswered about any federal crimes former President Donald Trump may or may not have committed while in office as a result of the FBI’s unprecedented search of his Mar-a-Lago residence. This also creates the conditions for one of the most divisive public investigations of an elected official in American history.

On August 8, federal officials raided Trump’s Florida property and seized 11 boxes of highly-classified government materials that may have contained nuclear knowledge.

We have no reason to believe that the FBI and Department of Justice are not functioning in good faith and adhering to the law, despite what Trump and other Republican officials have said. Given the probability that Trump may run for president once more in 2024, the American people deserve complete openness from their government.

Nevertheless, given how divisive a figure Trump is and how profoundly divided the nation is, the search is unlikely to sway many voters’ opinions about which party to support in the upcoming midterm elections, especially because Trump is not a candidate. But it could further energize an already-energized Republican base, harming the Democratic Party.

According to a recent Economist/YouGov poll, the majority of Americans (54%) favor of the FBI’s investigation, but there are significant ideological differences – Democrats largely (86%) approve of the search, compared to just 21% of Republicans. Less than half of Independents firmly approve the search, despite a 10-point advantage in favor of the FBI’s actions (47 percent to 37 percent) among them.

According to the same poll, Republicans have a 14-point lead over Democrats in voter enthusiasm this year because two-thirds (66%) of Republicans say they are “more enthusiastic” about voting in this year’s midterms than they were last year, compared to only 52% of Democrats.

In the long run, the G.O.P.’s continued attention on Trump’s complaints — especially if he did, in fact, commit the crimes he is accused of — could be harmful to their future electoral viability, even though the party may profit from higher turnout in 2022 as a result of the search.

Soon after the FBI started looking, Trump and numerous other well-known congressional Republicans reiterated a well-worn talking point, denouncing the inquiry as being politically motivated. Most egregiously, some party members who had previously decried the political left’s “defund the cops” agitation for the previous two years were criticizing law enforcement and demanding that the FBI be defunded.

Republicans’ response to the search serves as another reminder to swing voters, Independents, and moderate Republicans of how far the Republican Party has drifted from its core ideals, even without knowing what the FBI uncovered or whether the former president committed a crime.

The best way for the Republican Party to stay politically relevant in the long run is to create a proactive agenda that prioritizes fiscal responsibility, tax reduction, increased public safety, fortifying our southern border, promoting individual liberties, and giving parents more authority over their children’s education.

Reiterating Donald Trump’s complaints is detrimental to the Republican Party’s long-term political objectives, whether they are related to the FBI’s search of his residence, the investigation into his businesses, or the 2020 election. This alienates swing voters, Independents, and moderate Republicans who are eager to put Trump behind them and worried about tackling today’s concerns.

The GOP base is still steadfastly loyal to Trump, who has been politically revived by this inquiry after it briefly appeared as though his star inside the G.O.P. was slowly dimming, as evidenced by Republican lawmakers’ responses to the FBI’s search.

With the exception of his most fervent supporters, Trump was steadily losing favor among Republican voters prior to the Mar-a-Lago hunt. Trump’s margin over his most formidable 2024 opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, grew by 10 points in the aftermath. According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, Trump currently has a 57 percent to 17 percent advantage among Republicans who are registered to vote.

The Republican Party is still Donald Trump’s party, much to the dismay of many rank-and-file Republicans, as evidenced by the GOP’s response to the FBI search.

Furthermore, the FBI’s actions will have solidified Donald Trump’s position as the Republican nominee for president in 2024, reversing the establishment’s attempts to finally move past Donald Trump, even if this investigation does not find that he committed any crimes, or more likely, does not find that he committed any very serious crimes.

Political strategist Douglas E. Schoen advised both President Clinton’s administration and Michael Bloomberg’s bid for the presidency in 2020. The End of Democracy? is his most recent book. America is retreating while Russia and China are advancing.

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