'Big mo': Postdebate bump, legal wins help Trump build summer momentum – NBC News

A chronicle of Donald Trump's Crimes or Allegations

'Big mo': Postdebate bump, legal wins help Trump build summer momentum – NBC News

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In presidential politics, momentum swings fast.
Just ask Donald Trump.
In less than a week, Trump’s legal woes have been significantly minimized for now by the courts, his once-daunting campaign cash deficit has all but disappeared, and a disastrous debate performance by President Joe Biden not only has Trump widening his lead in some public polling, but it also has Biden, 81, at odds with many in his own party who believe he isn’t up to the task of running again.
“Big Mo is clearly on Trump’s side,” said South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick, using a slang term for “momentum,” which he said he believes Trump has gathered over the past week. “From the national polls to most of the battleground state polls — and he is setting fundraising records — it has been a great several weeks.”
The politics of the race can perhaps now be seen as a split screen, with everything before last week’s Atlanta debate on one side and everything after on the other.
In late May, Trump had become the first former president to become a convicted felon, and for much of the year he was trailing Biden and Democrats in fundraising. In addition, even after the conviction, there was the prospect that future legal woes would dog his campaign for the duration of the 2024 election cycle.
That started to turn around when he rode his conviction to big fundraising gains and then his opponent delivered a disastrous debate performance.
The latest bump for Trump came this week when the U.S. Supreme Court handed him a win, saying core presidential functions are immune from prosecution, a decision that could hobble the prosecutions he still faces. As a result of that ruling, the judge in his New York hush money case delayed his sentencing Tuesday after the jury found him guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush money payments to a porn star ahead of the 2016 election.
His sentencing was originally scheduled for next week, but now it won’t be held until at least September — a delay that helps Trump avoid having the severity of his crime cemented in voters’ minds by having a sentence handed down. And it extends Biden’s bad news cycle as Trump heads into the Republican National Convention in less than two weeks.
The Biden campaign and high-level surrogates have acknowledged Biden’s debate performance wasn’t good, but in a series of phone calls they have tried to assuage the fears of supporters and donors that it was a one-off bad performance. Not only is Biden up to the task of beating Trump, they argue, but he is the only one who can do it in an election cycle centered on Trump’s being an existential threat to democracy.
“The state and the stakes of the race remain the same,” said James Singer, a Biden campaign spokesperson. “America has a choice between a Donald Trump: 34-time felon who is only out for himself, wants to destroy our democracy, rip away our rights and make himself a dictator with the immunity for the Supreme Court. And Joe Biden: a president fighting for our families, defending our democracy, fighting for our rights, and is delivering actual results for the American people.”
But still, on Tuesday, Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas became the first Democrat in Congress to call on Biden to withdraw from the race, and Democratic governors have huddled to discuss the party’s path forward. Biden is holding a video call with some governors Wednesday to address growing concerns.
A slew of postdebate public polling offers a bit of a political Rorschach test.
To make their case that the past week hasn’t altered the fundamentals of the race, Biden supporters point to surveys like a CNN poll that found that just 5% of registered voters said the debate had changed their minds, a separate FiveThirtyEight poll that found “the debate didn’t change many voters’ minds about either candidate,” and Reuters polling that found the race tied at 40% to 40%. (NBC News hasn’t independently vetted the polls.)
Conversely, nearly every postdebate poll found that Trump outperformed Biden, and others show that Biden’s debate stage gaffes reinforced the perception he is too old to be commander and chief and that Vice President Kamala Harris is now polling better than Biden against Trump.
Republicans also hope that now at least one state not recently considered in play is winnable by Trump — New Hampshire. 
“I now firmly believe Donald Trump will win New Hampshire,” state party chairman Chris Ager said. “Up until last week, I was optimistic but thought it was going to be a very tough road.”
New Hampshire is the perfect snapshot of just how the past five days have swung momentum in Trump’s favor.
No Republican has won the state since George H.W. Bush in 2000, and Biden won it by more than 7 points. But polling that came out in the wake of the debate has Biden up just 2 points in the state, although such polling immediately after a major event can sometimes fail to fully take into the fallout of the event.
“After the debate, Republicans who might not have been with Trump here are now with Trump and saying, ‘No possible way it could be Biden,’” Ager said. “It solidified his base here.”
Some Biden supporters do see the past week as potentially a near-term drag on his campaign but that in the long term it will intensify his political base voters and get them to the polls.
“Here is why I think it has been good for Joe Biden,” said John Morgan, a Florida-based attorney and major Democratic donor. “Now they have all had the rug pulled out from under them. He [Trump] might never go to jail. Some are furious about that. You know what they are going to do? Vote.”
Morgan, who is planning a Biden fundraiser at his Florida home, said the hush money trial matters little because it was “bull—- from beginning,” but he said things like the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling Monday can spur intensity.
“I believe the anger and frustration will spill over. People are going to ask, ‘Why does he get to be king? Why is he above the law?’” Morgan said. “That anger will manifest itself into a sense of retribution and help tip the scales for Biden.”
The immunity ruling was just the latest political win for Trump in recent days, but it has sparked grave concerns among Democrats and Republicans who don’t support Trump that it could ultimately hand him nearly unchecked power in a second term and that it means a fundamental change in what the rule of law has long meant.
“No one, no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States,” Biden said Monday night at the White House, addressing the immunity ruling.
The ruling, however, sparked more legal wins for Trump. Without the ruling in his favor, Trump’s attorneys wouldn’t have asked for a delay in sentencing in his New York trail. 
Delaying Trump’s sentencing could now remind voters of the trial much closer to Election Day. But after the judge granted the delay, Trump predictably took a huge victory lap.
“TOTAL EXONERATION!,” he posted Tuesday afternoon on Truth Social, exaggerating the legal impact of the ruling and the sentencing delays. “It is clear that the Supreme Court’s Brilliantly Written and Historic Decision Ends all of Crooked Joe Biden’s Witch Hunts against me, including the WHITE HOUSE AND DOJ INSPIRED CIVIL HOAXES in New York.”
Matt Dixon is a senior national politics reporter for NBC News, based in Florida.
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