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Trump’s Jan. 6 Baggage: A Thorny Issue for His Campaign Trail

Credit: Politico

Let’s dive into the political rollercoaster that is Donald Trump’s campaign, with a special focus on the infamous Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Picture this: Republican voters are slowly turning the page on the Jan. 6 saga, some even high-fiving Trump’s election subversion attempts. Meanwhile, the rest of America is watching with raised eyebrows, munching popcorn, and saying, “Really, guys?”

As the GOP gears up to potentially back Trump as their main man this November, their view of the Capitol rioters has shifted from “bad guys” to “maybe not so bad.” It’s like they’re rewatching a movie and deciding the villain isn’t that villainous after all. This shift is smoothing the path for Trump’s nomination, but outside the Republican bubble, the Jan. 6 riot is still as popular as a skunk at a garden party.

Two recent polls have highlighted the gamble for the GOP in possibly choosing Trump again. Democrats and independents are still giving major side-eye to the Jan. 6 events and Trump’s role in them. They’re holding onto the belief that Joe Biden was legitimately elected and that Trump tried to hijack the election like a cowboy in a bad Western movie.

Despite polls showing Trump in a neck-and-neck race with the not-so-popular Biden, his refusal to concede the 2020 election and his actions leading up to the Capitol riot are sticking to him like gum on a shoe.

Fast forward to the 2022 midterms, where voters gave most 2020 election deniers the cold shoulder, especially in battleground states. It’s like the voters were on a dating app swiping left on candidates with a history of election denial.

The latest polls, timed like a dramatic drumroll for the anniversary of Jan. 6, show that public opinion hasn’t changed much since 2021. A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll revealed that half of the respondents still view the Capitol protestors as mostly violent. It’s like asking people if they still think water is wet.

More Republicans now think the Jan. 6 rioters’ punishments have been too harsh. It’s as if they’re saying, “Hey, maybe they just got a little carried away?” Meanwhile, a majority of Americans still think Trump is largely to blame for the attack, though that number has dipped, driven by Republicans who seem to be viewing Trump with rose-colored glasses.

On the false claim that Biden’s election wasn’t legitimate, Republicans and the rest of the electorate are on different planets. In a Suffolk University/USA Today poll, 63 percent of all voters said Biden was the real deal, but only 29 percent of Republicans agreed. It’s like they’re watching two different reality shows.

Biden, seizing the moment, delivered a speech in the electorally critical Philadelphia suburbs, where he called out Republicans for cozying back up to Trump. It’s like he’s the exasperated parent saying, “I thought we talked about this.”

Jan. 6 is also getting the Hollywood treatment in a new Biden ad airing in seven swing states. Before the 2022 midterms, Democrats were unsure whether to play the Jan. 6 card heavily, but it turns out, along with abortion rights, it helped them outrun the not-so-great perceptions of Biden’s job performance.

According to the survey AP VoteCast, 86 percent of midterm voters said the future of democracy was a big deal in the election. It’s like they were voting in a democracy-themed reality TV show, and they chose the “Team Democracy” t-shirt.

The most famous Republican election deniers faced a tough crowd at the ballot box. The Washington Post identified nearly 300 GOP candidates who denied or questioned the 2020 election results. Of the 47 who ran in competitive races, only 10 won. It’s like they were playing musical chairs, and most of them were left standing when the music stopped.

Some of these 2022 election-denying celebs are trying for a comeback, like Arizona’s Kari Lake and Washington State’s Joe Kent. Trump himself has flirted with the idea of mass pardons for the Jan. 6 defendants, which is about as popular with the general public as a porcupine in a balloon factory.

The Suffolk University/USA Today poll found that 59 percent of voters think the Justice Department’s prosecutions of the Jan. 6 rioters are just fine, thank you very much. Only about a third disagree, including a majority of Republicans.

In a nutshell, Trump might have nudged GOP voters to soften their stance on Jan. 6, but convincing the broader electorate in November might be as challenging as teaching a cat to swim. So, buckle up, folks, as we watch how this political saga unfolds on the campaign trail.