To honor July 4th, the American holiday of independence, this study took up what seems the biggest threat to democracy — Donald Trump and his supporters.
The results below are shown in bar charts followed by comments from 20 participants — David Zalkind, Ian Browde, Margherita Abe, Phil Sisson, Kent Myers, Jacques Malan, Mike Marien, Owen Davies, Steve Smith, Hellmuth Broda, Douglas Cullison, Steve Hausman, Victor Motti, Ted Gordon, Peter King, Young-Jin Choi, Clayton Dean, Gerry Stoopman, and Clark Capshaw. TechCast is grateful for these valuable contributions.
The data and comments below are fraught with uncertainty and doubt, yet an analysis of the results, along with new developments, suggest the days of Trumpian fantasy are fading and likely to end in the next few years.
The bar charts show a 55% probability that Trump and his key associates are likely to be charged with serious crimes in the next 2 years. The data also show that a moderate (59%) backlash is likely to follow these indictments, and that Trump’s support among GOP members is likely to fall from today’s 80% levels to 47% or so.
While the data are persuasive, this study also finds several sources of uncertainty that must play out in ways could surprise us. As the comments make clear, our respondents worry that the DOJ, under Merrick Garland, has grave concerns about provoking political opposition and riots from diehard Trump supporters. Respondents also think a staunch wall of silence by his political partners will discourage further confessions. They hold doubts that a jury would convict the former president, and they are uncertain about the possible decline of Trump’s popularity.
These doubts and uncertainty are dispelled to a great extent by striking events that signal a turning point is being reached. The first signal was sent when the House Jan 6 Committee heard the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, and prominent figures claimed this amounted to a “smoking gun” on Trump. The Hutchinson testimony was soon supported by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who largely corroborated Hutchinson’s testimony.
Shortly after, there was a distinct switch in the media to a growing sense that Trump’s support was starting to decline. This was then confirmed with news that roughly half of GOP members no longer favor Trump as their candidate for the 2024 election. And GOP stalwart Peggy Noonan, exposed the “big lie” in the Wall Street Journal (June 16, 2022), breaking the silence of Trump enablers.
Abroad, the Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson, lost the confidence of his party and was stepping down, while Trump’s idol, Vladimir Putin, is discrediting autocracy by invading Ukraine. The lesson for Americans highlights how leaders can lose power by striving to serve their own interests rather than the state. Parallels to the US are obvious and seems to be taking hold.
TechCast thinks the overall sum of this evidence suggests that the illusion cast by Donald Trump is being exposed. All lies must inevitably fall. Although the 55% probability of an indictment is slim, we made an even tighter close call on the 2020 election and successfully forecast that Biden would win. The same choice seems justified here, as the first bar chart shows a bi-modal frequency distribution. Both modes cannot be correct, and so the bulk of evidence shifts to the dominant mode, with a mean of 71% probability against lesser mode of 18% probability.
TechCast thinks the DoJ is likely to indict Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani and other Trump collaborators first to begin holding those responsible for planning the attack on Congress. These trials would then produce new evidence further implicating others and preparing the public to accept the gravity of the insurrection. Finally, the former president himself is likely to be charged with sedition and other crimes sometime in 2023 or early 2024 before the national election. If this happens, the impact on American politics could be profound. A major problem would remain, of course — how to absorb the rest of Trump supporters into the mainstream.
This conclusion that Trump’s power is peaking is of great significance because the US has long served as a beacon of democracy. If Americans can shed this aberration, the world is likely to urge nations to abandon their autocrats as well, possibly ending the global rise of autocracy and opening up to democratic change. At last. All the worries over the sad state of the world could then prove to be a detour in the evolutionary path noted in our previous study forecasting the rise of global consciousness about 2030 +/- 5 years. Also see Beyond Knowledge below.
Question 1. Indictment
Probability that the DOJ will indict Trump and some associates before Merrick Garland’s appointment ends in 2024. (0 to 100%)
Garland seems more concerned with backlash than with justice.
Trump hasn’t given the DOJ anything substantial, that I am aware of yet, to indict on and none of those close to him like Meadows, Cipollone or Giuliani will turn on him. Also their ability to get a jury that is impartial is going to prove too hard.
Given what is now public knowledge, with worse disclosures to come, it is hard to conceive that Trump will not be indicted…In addition there is also the issue of interference with Georgia elections as well..
Staff at DoJ will run out of time. Years later we will learn that they had indictments prepared but just couldn’t stop ‘preparing’!
Zero chance of success, though I suspect they may try.
I do not believe Merrick Garland has the stomach for such a prosecution. To rationalize this, he will tell himself and any interviewer he subsequently talks to that it would require too much of DoJ’s funding and manpower with too little probability of success to justify the commitment. Add a side order of not wanting to destabilize the country for a case he likely would not win. There is a modest chance that he will act after the election, explaining that he did not wish to influence voting.
I think the administration is inclined to look the other way because of the coming wave of republicans to congress after this election.
It’s more likely that some associates will be indicted and less likely that Trump himself will be indicted.
They have already been collecting and requesting the documents from the Congress committee on 6 Jan. Most probably they are not to use the documents for reading only.
I am an optimist. The mid terms and the presidential elections of 2024 will be the closest watched ever and therefore beyond reproach. Many pro Trumpists will cool (particularly if he is indicted) and gain perspective so he will lose much of his following, I think, but who knows. These are just guesses.
I have little doubt that the DoJ, Merrick Garland, et al will indict Trump. It’s not a secret and it’s largely a fait accompli that knives are being sharpened for Mr. Trump here inside the Beltway. Interestingly everyone pretends that we need to know what Trump was thinking – but everyone already knows. He didn’t want to leave office and was willing to bend, stretch, or exploit any possible avenue. The real question will be, is there a smoking gun to convince some people on either of the two sides of a divided America, each of which has already made up their mind regarding Mr. Trump and his actions? I tend to think not.
It’s ironic that for many ‘average’ Americans the issue of intent, or knowledge of the laws, is NEVER a question in court. However for the aristocracy the same question of intent is ALWAYS debated, nuanced, and chewed over. I think Trump will get indicted as surely as night follow day. And it should be noted the Grand Jury is an easy process to sway towards a desired outcome (something like 99.99% of Grand Juries result in indictments). The issue quickly becomes ‘what follows’ Trump’s inevitable indictment?
The likelihood of Trump being charged at the state level (by NY on tax issues and by Georgia for election interference) is probably greater than at the federal level, because of the optics of a Democratic administration charging a Republican former President.
I think the will is there to do it. I definitely think that many associates will be indicted. The precedent of indicting a former President may be enough to deter this action, but I think at least an indictment is likely.
Question 2. Backlash
Severity of the right-wing backlash to a Trump indictment. (0 to 100%, where 0% = None, 50% = Moderate, 100% = Civil War)
I see violent actions, but short of a civil war — I hope.
While I don’t foresee a full-scale civil war, I do anticipate violence around the country.
A lot of this may be posturing by elected officials who use this to attempt to placate their far-right wing base.
There would be several outbreaks of violence and many varieties of intimidation, but no outright war. The “backlash” would only augment the existing strategy, which is to undermine the system and gradually effect a bloodless coup on the Hungarian model.I think Trump as a person is not the one carrying the support per se
I think Trump as a person is not the one carrying the support per se. It is the overall direction of his messaging that conservatives support. That’s why guys like Cruz, De Santis and Paul are also popular. They drive the same message. Any one of them can step into that role (and I surely hope one of them do).
Professional Republicans will complain that the case has been brought solely for the political benefit of Democrats, then put as much distance between themselves and Trump as they can without enraging the far right. They will thereby give cover for the radicals.
Among mainstream conservatives, to whatever extent they survive, half will agree that the case is political gamesmanship. The rest will be convinced of Trump’s guilt if the evidence is good enough. Some in the first group could come over to their side if the evidence is extremely strong, but I doubt the first group will ever shrink much below three in ten Republican supporters short of an undeniably just guilty verdict; probably not even then. They will influence right-wing politicians hoping the problem will blow over without hurting them too badly.
The white supremacists and other radicals will remain loyal to Trump and will show their support with armed demonstrations, loud threats of violence, and sometimes the real thing. This group’s masturbatory enjoyment of self-righteous aggression.
I would expect attempted insurrections in DC, Virginia, and and the purest red states. It is likely that these actions will be coordinated. Unless the trouble is put down forcefully–which I believe improbable–it will continue until the first murder prosecutions result in guilty verdicts and the occasional death sentence.
I strongly doubt Trump will ever pay a penalty for his actions. If the case is brought and results in a guilty verdict, it will be appealed to the Supreme Court. The right-wing apparatchiks Trump installed there will either find some pretext for overturning the verdict or sit on the case until Trump dies of a stroke or old age.
The right will try to intimidate DOJ/white house upon the initial inditement (if it happens).
I cannot imagine how a civil war will start in a nuclear armed country and with access to advanced weaponry in the hands of the armed forces. Perhaps you could include a coup by Trump loyalists in the military?
This will play out much as the classic scene in Animal House. As the Deltas made the case that a few bad apples should not besmirch the entirety of American Democracy, so too will Republicans. Even as they, perhaps, will find Mr. Trump’s actions distasteful they will be unwilling to damage the larger Republican brand either by admitting to culpability OR allowing too much of a counter-reaction to the impending indictment.
Although there is a likelihood of the Trump base reacting badly if he is charged at any level, Republicans as a whole will probably have a feeling of “good riddance” after all of the dust has settled on the January 6th hearings and their aftermath.
There is too much support for Trump that is not based on reason or evidence, but cultivated by his cult of personality. The true believers will not be convinced by anything; and the right-wing media will continue to stir the pot, looking for political advantage.
Question 3. Political Support
Level of GOP support for Trump if charged and found guilty. Trump support now about 80% of GOP membership. (0-100%)
His base will remain strong, others will be less afraid of him. See Trump rally interviews which make me think that his fervid supporters will not waiver in the face of evidence or anything else.
Because the diehards will stay and those who would feel deceived by him would change their position. But they are few and far between.
GOP leaders will use this to attempt to move the party away from Trump…
Loyalists would sympathize with Trump for the ‘unfair’ treatment. Any result that favors our opponents cannot be ‘fair’. In other words, they don’t care about laws, unless they are directed against opponents, and then they care a lot.
It’s politics. If the ship goes down, everyone will claim they never supported him anyway (and some of that may be true – see previous point).
It will be less because a few of the radicals are too demoralized to bother remaining loyal to anything but their own sense of grievance. Other Republican voters will either continue to believe it was a political case–at this point, I would expect their numbers to shrink–or accept that the verdict was unavoidable and perhaps even fair. Republican politicians will decry the injustice of it all, then scurry for whatever cover they can find as fast as they can
GOP will abandon Trump the instant he is found guilty. Trump will retain a small base of mainly middle aged white men without a college degree.
I would say that at least half of the base of the GOP are law abiding citizens.
Followers leave the sinking ship. GOP offers good alternatives in the primaries.
Trump will not be found guilt. The clock runs out on this issue as Democrats lose big in November and are unable to see a full and substantive trial on this issue through to completion. There is no chance Trump is convicted in any substantive way.
Perhaps Trump gets convicted of a few ‘foot faults’ that are more procedural or that someone far down the Trump hierarchy gets some time. But the ‘Teflon Don’ has the resources to lawyer up and draw the legal process out until there is a more favorable time and place. Perhaps at that juncture he settles for a minor rebuke or slap on the wrist. And please note my statement applies to a conviction relating to January 6th as opposed to what is occurring in the District of Southern New York (re: the Trump organization’s financial chicanery).
We are already seeing declining support as the evidence mounts. I think that some will take a self-interested line of thought in the idea that this will confer some advantage on them in the 2024 race, and others who secretly detest Trump will finally take a stand. ……..
Tell your friends, associates and social media lists the good news — Peak Trump is here.