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Ahead of CPAC, New Report Underscores How Trump’s Racism and Xenophobia Backfired

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Read the new America’s Voice report, The Return of Trump: The Racist Sequel


America’s Voice is releasing a new report ahead of Donald Trump’s immigration-focused speech at CPAC on Sunday. It underscores that the reliance on nativism and xenophobia by Donald Trump and Stephen Miller is a political loser for Republicans.

The report is titled, The Return of Trump: The Racist Sequel. Among the highlights:

  • In the 2020 campaign, Trump ran 157 unique ads that employed xenophobic messaging. Our 2020 ad tracking project and report found that at the presidential level, Trump turned to xenophobia more than highlighted in campaign coverage. The campaign ran 157 different ads on immigration. In just four days in May, the Trump campaign ran over 6,000 Facebook ads, spending nearly $2 million dollars across their three main pages with the message “[Biden] wants to provide illegal immigrants with TAXPAYER funded health care.” An often used attack from the Trump campaign warned voters “Joe Biden says ‘citizenship for 11 million undocumented folks’ means 11 million illegal immigrants competing for American jobs eligible for free healthcare, Social Security, and Medicare.” The report contains an array of images and links to the actual ads (see here)
  • Xenophobic appeals were a part of nearly every rally Trump held during the 2020 cycle. For example, at his first rally back in Tulsa, Oklahoma after a short pause for the global pandemic, Trump noted of Democrats, “They want to disarm law, abiding citizens, and dismantle our police forces while freeing vicious MS-13 gang members. In Joe Biden’s America, rioters, looters, and criminal aliens have more rights than law-abiding citizens. And that’s true.” 
  • Trump’s racism and xenophobia failed and backfired in 2018 and 2020: Despite the power of the bully pulpit and the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on anti-immigrant advertising, Trump’s xenophobia never got much traction outside the cul-de-sac of his base. Indeed, it backfired with the majority of Americans. Public sentiment for immigrants and immigration is at an all-time high. The 2020 failure followed the 2018 midterm failure. Trump’s “caravans” focus backfired, bigly.

According to Zachary Mueller, Digital Content Manager at America’s Voice:

Donald Trump is reemerging to proclaim his domination of the GOP and to put anti-immigrant bigotry at the heart of the party’s message. We predict this will be as ‘successful’ as his efforts to do so in 2018 and 2020.

The GOP strategy is clear: use racism and xenophobia to divide the nation and distract voters from the multiple crises we face. Trump and his Republicans are not interested in governing, they are interested in regaining power. They are mostly opposed to the nation’s top priorities of COVID relief, economic recovery, racial justice, voting rights, climate change and immigration reform. 

This divide-and-distract strategy failed in 2018 and 2020. Trump’s divisiveness, cruelty and hatred for ‘the non-white other’ helped to galvanize a multiracial, multiethnic and multigenerational majority that is interested in protecting democracy, advancing racial justice, and doing big things that change lives. The Trumpy dog-whistles and white identity appeals may work with the majority of Republicans, but they backfire with the majority of voters.