The fresh controversy stoked by ongoing revelations about the FBI’s raid of the Mar-a-Lago home of former President Donald Trump, including the release on Sept. 2 of a detailed inventory of documents and items retrieved in the raid, is unlikely to have a significant effect on the outcome of the November midterm elections, political strategists have told The Epoch Times.
The issues of concern to voters still struggling with massive inflation, and a bloated national debt exacerbated by President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive some $500 billion worth of federal student loans, will be much more decisive factors in the minds of voters heading to the polls, the strategists say.
Reports on Friday that a small number of the thousands of documents seized by federal agents contained information labeled secret, confidential, or top secret, might appear to some observers to spell bad news for the former president and his anticipated 2024 reelection bid. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has made public an inventory of the items of property taken in the raid, the vast majority of which—11,179—were not classified as in any way secret or confidential. But, according to a tally compiled by the New York Post, 54 documents were labeled “Secret,” 31 were “Confidential,” and 18 were officially “Top Secret.”
The secret and top-secret documents were found in Trump’s office and in a storage room on the property, the Post reported.
In spite of these revelations, the investigation into documents transferred from the White House at the time of Trump’s departure in January 2021 is still at an early stage, is prone to missteps and possible backfiring, and none of the findings are likely to dissuade voters from supporting Republican candidates or drive them to cross the political aisle and vote for the incumbent party, experts say. In part, this is simply a function of the timing of the investigation and of the November elections.
“I think there will be more activity by the Department of Justice, but they will be careful. If they make a misstep, it will benefit Trump. I don’t think raid will affect the midterms much unless there is an indictment of Trump, which I think is very unlikely before November,” Keith Naughton, the principal of Silent Majority Strategies, a political consultancy based in Germantown, Maryland, told The Epoch Times.
Naughton acknowledged that the raid, and recent statements by Trump, such as his call for a redo of the 2020 election, may motivate voters already inclined to support Democrat candidates. But while Democrats may hope that the raid and subsequent revelations prove highly embarrassing to Trump and the GOP, the truth is that most of the electorate will still vote on the basis of the larger economic issues affecting their day-to-day lives, Naughton believes.
“The student loan giveaway by Biden is backfiring badly and the economy is not really improving, even if inflation is moderating a bit. Republicans and independents will turn out to vote against Biden’s flailing policies,” Naughton said.
Naughton alluded to a debt forgiveness plan that has left even former Democrat officials and left-leaning economists expressing concerns about the feasibility of the measure and its long-term impact on the economy, what with a federal deficit of $1 trillion and some $30 trillion of overall government debt.
The fallout from this measure is likely to be severe for Democrat candidates as the public comes to perceive more and more that a purportedly altruistic measure works to the disadvantage of poorer citizens in the long term while pushing government debt to ever more unsustainable levels, some economists believe.
“I suspect this supposed to be a first step to making taxpayers liable for all student loans, and eventually to the federal government making college ‘free.’ College education would then be a transfer from the less well-off to the wealthier, who have much higher rates of college preparation and attendance. It would also put the federal government on an even faster track to a debt crisis,” Charles Steele, Chair of the Department of Economics, Business, and Accounting at Hillsdale College in Michigan, told The Epoch Times.
The question of whether Trump may or may not have violated the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which established a highly specific protocol regarding the handling of documents by outgoing presidents, is a partisan-driven distraction from the issues on people’s minds, Naughton continued.
“The New York-Washington media axis is obsessed with Trump, the raid, and the January 6 hearings, and is very much out of touch. The rest of the country is much more concerned with the cost of living and issues affecting their livelihoods,” Naughton said.
The Greater Mobilizer?
Some commentators believe that, regardless of public concerns about the raid or what legal consequences the FBI’s actions and the ongoing investigation may have, challenges loom for Republican candidates in an environment where significant backlash against the Supreme Court’s recent divisive ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which reversed Roe v. Wade, is all but inevitable.
“Democrats are motivated by the Dobbs decision in a far greater way than the raid motivates Republicans,” David Carlucci, a former New York State senator who now works as a political consultant, told The Epoch Times.
In the past, the issue of legal access to abortions was not quite the dealbreaker that it has become in the months since the Dobbs ruling, Carlucci argued. The decision has changed the game, and Republicans ignore this at their peril.
“Republican politicians have for years been able to be pro-life and still get pro-choice voter support. Pro-choice voters have felt secure [in the belief] that access to a safe abortion would be protected. Moderate Republicans now have to carry water for their most conservative Republican counterparts because strict abortion bans are very much a concern for moderate voters,” Carlucci said.
But other observers reject this analysis and argue that federal law enforcement has already committed such severe missteps in the execution of the raid and attempts to justify it that the fallout will give Trump-endorsed candidates an edge in the midterms.
Rick Wiley, a political consultant who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign, told The Epoch Times that the raid and its aftermath have “fired up” the GOP base.
“The raid at Mar-a-Lago is one of those moments in history, where you remember where you were when you heard they raised the President’s private residence. And overwhelmingly, people are saying, ‘Was all this necessary?’ That’s a problem for the FBI and DOJ. They left everyone in the dark for days before they gave a half-hearted, at best, explanation for what happened, and most people were left scratching their heads,” Wiley said.
What the public especially objects to is the perceived political motivation on the part of law enforcement agencies that are supposed to do their job objectively and avoid giving the appearance of targeting opposition figures, Wiley argued.
“It seems political and that’s an image problem the FBI and DOJ are going to have to deal with. And it has Republicans fired up,” Wiley said.
Not even the Dobbs ruling will produce the same galvanizing effect on Democrat voters that the Mar-a-Lago raid will have on Republican voters, Wiley stated, adding, “I’ll take a fired-up GOP base over a fired-up Democrat base any day.”
The Epoch Times has reached out to the DOJ for comment.