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America’s Voice Election 2020 Weekly Digest #6

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Each Friday through Election Day, we disseminate this memo highlighting the key 2020 developments at the intersection of electoral politics and immigration

Key Immigration Politics Stories

  1. Trump’s strategic racism is not just falling flat, it’s backfiring
  2. The border wall, like Trump’s presidency, is failing before our eyes
  3. Citizenship delayed is voting denied

Trump’s strategic racism is not just falling flat, it’s backfiring

  • In the face of Trump’s focus on urban unrest in hopes of deflecting from his epic failures, new polls show that the lead Biden and Democrats have built in swing states is durable and Trump’s go-to use of strategic racism – demonizing the non-white “other” in hopes of scaring white voters into voting for him – is not working. This should not come as a surprise. Our tracking of contested races from 2017-19 where immigration-themed attacks were launched by GOP candidates shows that xenophobia backfired.
  • As AV Director Frank Sharry stated this week, “It’s been clear for some time now that a powerful multiracial majority is gearing up to reject the racism and xenophobia of the President and his party. Trump is running as if it’s 1968. It’s not. It’s 2020, America has changed, and the GOP playbook of using dog-whistle tactics and racist wedge issues is not only failing, it’s backfiring.”   
  • But don’t just take our word for it – see here for a roundup of leading observers taking stock of the latest polls and concluding, in the words of Heather McGhee, “He’s losing the suburbs because he’s still trying to race bait and divide us at a time where, you know, you’ve got big suburban houses with lawn signs that say, ‘Black Lives Matter.’”

The border wall, like Trump’s presidency, is failing before our eyes

  • President Trump’s border wall obsession epitomizes his presidency – failing, corrupt, narcissistic, offensive, and unpopular. The recent charges against Steve Bannon and other leaders of the ‘We Build the Wall’ fundraising campaign underscore the point. At its core, Trumpism is about wielding racism to spin up followers so well-connected cronies get rich and maintain power.
  • The privately-built sections of the border wall are expected to fall. New revelations from a joint investigative report from The Texas Tribune and ProPublica finds: “It’s not a matter of if a privately built border fence along the shores of the Rio Grande will fail, it’s a matter of when, according to a new engineering report.”
  • While the new engineering assessment is focused on the “private” wall portion, it’s a distinction without a difference. As the joint reporting project highlights, Trump crony and donor Tommy Fisher is in charge of the private wall build and is the recipient of several billion in contracts for the taxpayer-funded portion. No, Mexico is not paying.

Citizenship delayed is voting denied

  • While the GOP is moving on multiple fronts to suppress the vote, a new area of voter suppression has emerged: the administration’s slowdown in naturalization for  immigrants who want to become citizens and new voters.
  • According to Boundless, the citizenship delay means that some 300,000 immigrants will not become citizens by the time 2020 voter registration deadlines hit.
  • As Douglas Rivlin of AV stated, “Unlike the southern border wall, the barriers the Trump administration has erected to citizenship and voting have been quite effective. The President believes that after four long years of calling immigrants murderers and rapists, demonizing asylum seekers fleeing violence, caging children and separating families, newly naturalized immigrant voters may not be enthusiastic about his candidacy, so the Trump Administration has been preventing their citizenship…Citizenship delayed is voting denied.”

Read this recap by Ur Jaddou, former USCIS counsel, on the Trump administration’s record on naturalizations

Polling Snapshot

  • ABC News/Ipsos: “A significant majority of Americans believe President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on the unrest in parts of the country is making matters worse — with even members of his own party divided on his approach.”
  • “Over half of the country — 55% — in the new poll … said they think Trump is aggravating the situation, while just over one in 10 Americans, 13%, said they think he is making it better.” 

Campaign Ads of the Week (from our newly remodeled site, 2020 Ad Watch)

  • Read our thread and analysis of the Worst Dog Whistle Ad of the Week here.
  • This week, we spotlight the NRSC’s new racist ad that echoes George H.W. Bush’s infamous Willie Horton ad from 1988. 
  • The new NRSC ad is running in Senate contests across the country.