Republican Candidates Demagogue Immigration and Border Security in 2014 at the Expense of GOP Viability in 2016
Washington, DC – Given the Republican Party’s need to improve its standing with Latino voters in order to win back the White House, the GOP’s embrace of anti-immigrant politics during the 2014 election cycle is a remarkable development. GOP candidates, led by Scott Brown, whose substantive knowledge of border issues begins and ends with the state line dividing Massachusetts from New Hampshire, are making a concerted effort to define their opponents as weak on border security and soft on “amnesty.” Brown has been joined in this trend by the campaigns for Republicans Tom Cotton, Pat Roberts, Bill Cassidy, Mitch McConnell, Thom Tillis, David Perdue, Steve King and others.
But what are the consequences? Below are some relevant analyses:
“…some Republicans worry that while the party might be helped by such rhetoric in the midterms, it could haunt the GOP in 2016 and complicate the party’s efforts to remold its image to Hispanic voters. ‘Unfortunately, this is like the fourth act of a play that Republicans keep using,’ said John Weaver, a Republican consultant who advised McCain during part of his 2008 presidential run. ‘Playing on the fear of some Ebola-carrying, ISIS terrorist — marching from Brownsville, Texas, to Des Moines — they think they can play on that image and that fear. And they’re going to take advantage of it, even though it does long-term damage across the board.’”
New York Times in a piece entitled In Raising Immigration, G.O.P. Risks Backlash After Election:
“Campaigning on possible threats from undocumented immigrants — similar to claims that President Obama and the Democrats have left the country vulnerable to attacks from Islamic terrorists and the Ebola virus — may backfire after November. At that point, the party will have to start worrying about its appeal beyond the conservative voters it needs to turn out in midterm elections. ‘You should never underestimate the ability of the Republicans to screw something up and blow an ideal opportunity,’ said Ralph Reed, an influential conservative who has battled with hard-line Republicans to take a more charitable view on immigration. ‘There is a sense in which, I think, the overwhelming desire to gain control of the Senate has kind of so fixated the party’s strategic brain trust that trying to get a hearing on long-term strategic issues doesn’t seem to be possible at the moment,’ he said.”
MNSBC’s Benjy Sarlin in a story entitled, GOP candidates accelerate party’s right turn on immigration:
“For now, Republicans can fire up the base on immigration issues without much fear of electoral reprisal. Their House GOP majority is secure and concentrated in disproportionately white districts, and the Senate map this year features few states where Latino voters are a big factor. All of that changes the day after November 4th when attention turns to the presidential election and Republicans have to worry about winning states with large Hispanic populations like Florida, Nevada, and Colorado to take back the White House.”
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in a clip from last night’s “All In” show:
“You see the tactical bet the Republicans are making in 2014 might have terrible consequences strategically in 2016. Because everyone, everyone, all the operatives on the Republican Party side, the Democratic Party side, and in between, understand that Republicans cannot win the presidency with the margins that Mitt Romney got among Latinos. And yet here they are, again, just two years later, in the process of repeating just that.”
“The GOP’s historic gains in 2010 discouraged it from making the policy adjustments it needed to appeal to the larger, younger, and more diverse presidential-year electorate of 2012. Instead, the new Republican House majority, believing it had won a national mandate, pursued a confrontational and invariably conservative course that both hurt the party’s overall image and pulled its 2012 presidential contenders to the right on issues from taxes to immigration (remember ‘self-deportation’?). That tug ultimately diminished nominee Mitt Romney’s appeal to the broader pool of general-election voters.
“Something similar could easily happen in 2016 if this year’s older and whiter electorate delivers another big midterm win to the GOP. A Republican majority in both congressional chambers would likely confront Obama aggressively—for example, by voting to repeal any administrative action he takes to provide legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants, or voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act after millions have obtained insurance coverage from it. Those actions would be difficult to sell to the younger and more diverse presidential-year electorate. But conservative momentum following a 2014 breakthrough could create irresistible pressure on the GOP’s next class of White House hopefuls to endorse the congressional agenda, even if doing so complicated efforts to, for instance, woo enough Hispanics to recapture Colorado or Nevada in 2016.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “In 2014 the GOP is sowing the seeds of its own demise in 2016 and beyond. Treating Latinos as if they are a threat to our nation’s safety is hardly a winning outreach strategy. And concocting excuses and trumpeting red herrings regarding immigration reform is hardly a winning policy position. But it seems the Republicans can’t help themselves. Their dog whistle strategy of mining white resentment is on full display this election season, and the stink of that approach will only grow more intense as they spend the next two years trying to prevent and kill executive action on immigration by the President.”