Donald Trump ‘galvanised’ by efforts to bar him from ballot but ‘big unknown’ could torpedo campaign

Donald Trump ‘galvanised’ by efforts to bar him from ballot but ‘big unknown’ could torpedo campaign

Donald Trump's appearance at court in New York for a civil case

Jack Walters

By Jack Walters

Published: 08/01/2024

- 08:50

Updated: 08/01/2024

- 09:18

The 77-year-old is leading his Republican rivals in the primary race and could defeat Joe Biden on November 5

A top pollster has claimed Donald Trump’s White House bid has been “galvanised” by efforts to prevent him from standing in the 2024 US Presidential Election but a “big unknown” could torpedo his campaign.

Colorado and Maine announced plans to block the former President’s bid, citing Trump’s role in the January 6 riots of 2021.

The decisions, which are up for appeal, have ramped up pressure on the conservative-leaning Supreme Court to weigh in.

JL Partners’ co-founder James Johnson, who headed up polling in Downing Street under Theresa May, warned Trump-critics were aiding the 45th President’s campaign by riling up voters.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump is leading the race for the Republican nomination


He told GB News: “This only helps Trump and it galvanises his base. But even people who are sceptical of Trump, including independents, have become sympathetic with him on this question.

“Fortunately, for the nature of US political conversation, and the heat of the polarisation, the 14th Amendment basically says that you require Congress to disqualify someone, and the state courts can't just do it on their own. I think it will almost certainly be reversed.”

California, Michigan and Minnesota dismissed efforts to block Trump under the 14th Amendment.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments regarding Colorado and Maine on February 8.

Trump’s legal spokeswoman Alina Habba said: "It will not stand, and we trust that the Supreme Court will reverse this unconstitutional order."

Steven Cheung, a campaign spokesman for the 45th President, added: “The so-called ‘ballot-challenge cases’ are all part of a well-funded effort by left-wing, political activists hell-bent on stopping the lawful re-election of President Trump this November, even if it means disenfranchising voters.”

Supreme Court justices were last heavily involved in a race to the White House in 2000 after George W Bush beat Al Gore in Florida by just 537 ballots.

The 14th Amendment, which has not been used to bar a potential presidential nominee before, was adopted following the Civil War to block any candidate “engaged in insurrection” from holding public office.

Former Number 10 pollster James JohnsonFormer Number 10 pollster James JohnsonGB NEWS

It has been so rarely used that the Supreme Court has no previous interpretation ahead of its deliberations.

The House of Representatives impeached Trump for a second time after January 6 on a charge of “incitement of insurrection”.

However, the Senate acquitted the 77-year-old yet again by failing to meet the two-thirds majority needed to secure a conviction.

Trump held a rally ahead of the riots, telling voters to “fight like hell” by marching “peacefully and patriotically” to the Capitol as he peddled the unfounded claim that the 2020 US Presidential Election was stolen.

The incident resulted in nine deaths and a number of police officers being injured.

Speaking in Pennsylvania last week, Joe Biden reminded voters about the incident and warned of the constitutional implications if Trump returns to the White House.

He said: “Whether democracy is still America's sacred cause is the most urgent question of our time.”

Biden added: “Democracy is on the ballot. Your freedom is on the ballot.”

Donald Trump

Donald Trump


However, a ballot bar is not the only legal issue facing the 45th President.

Trump has been criminally indicted four times and faces a series of trials ahead of November 5.

He was snapped with a mugshot in Georgia over the Peach State’s probe alleging 13 criminal counts relating to election interference.

A federal investigation into January 6, a probe into the alleged mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and felony counts into falsifying business records could still put the 45th President in hot water.

The indictments have not yet posed problems for Trump, with opinion polls instead suggesting anger among Trump voters.

Johnson said: “If you look at the independent voters, the same applied to the mug shot. When Trump had that mug shot moment, the independent voters actually took a bit of a step back and said, ‘This is a bit much, this is going a bit far now. This core process and dragging a former President over the coals. At the moment, that's why the wider court issues have helped Trump as well.”

However, Johnson claimed practical issues could emerge if Trump was convicted on any of the charges.

He added: “It's the big unknown if Trump is convicted. It’s hard to see how it doesn't affect his poll standings. I did focus groups with pretty die-hard Republicans in New Hampshire back in the autumn. Two people who were pretty pro-Trump and very pro-Republican in that group said, ‘How can you have a President who's in prison?’

Joe Biden

Joe Biden might have to face his old opponent again


“That wasn't an anti-Trump argument. It was just a sort of common sense argument. They want a President, including Trump, to be there and to be getting things done and to be sorting out the woke stuff and growing the economy, doing things they want to do in the name of America.”

There is no constitutional measure which would block the 45th President from running for the Oval Office from behind bars.

Socialist Eugene Debbs received more than 900,000 votes while being banged up at Atlanta Federal Penitentiary.

Addressing questions about the legal obstacles impacting his campaign last year, Trump said: “There’s nothing in the Constitution to say that it could, and not at all. And even the radical left crazies are saying, no, that wouldn’t stop.”

Trump is leading his Republican rivals in the Grand Old Party’s primary race, recent surveys have shown.

JL Partners also conducted an opinion poll last month handing the 77-year-old a four-point lead over Biden.

Such a result would likely help Trump flip Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin back into the Republican column.

It could even bring Nevada into play for a GOP nominee for the first time since 2004.

Trump’s potential White House comeback would make him just the second Commander-in-Chief to serve two non-consecutive terms in the Oval Office, with Grover Cleveland achieving the same feat in the 19th century.

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