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Did President Trump’s strategy of making the 2018 election about immigration work? We have been documenting the growing chorus of experts and analysts who have concluded that Trump’s ugly exploitation of racial grievance and caravan hysteria backfired. Here are some of the latest takes:
Democrats made big gains because Mr. Trump declared war on immigrants — and on multicultural America — and lost. His ugly campaign succeeded in making immigration and the border a voting issue for the Republican base, according to the post election survey I did with Democracy Corps, which asked those voting Republican why they did. “Open borders” was the top reason given for voting against a Democratic candidate. But it backfired among other voters.
On Election Day, a stunning 54 percent of those who voted said immigrants “strengthen our country.” Mr. Trump’s party lost the national popular vote by seven points, but he lost the debate over whether immigrants are a strength or a burden by 20 points. Mr. Trump got more than half of Republicans to believe immigrants were a burden, but three quarters of Democrats and a large majority of independents concluded that America gains from immigration.
…In short, the Republicans lost badly in the House by running as an anti-immigrant party, while the Democrats made major gains as a self-confident multicultural party.
NPR’s “Morning Edition” reports that Latino voters turned out, in part to stand up to Trump’s racism and xenophobia:
Joel Rose of NPR recaps that, “Latino turnout more than doubled in competitive districts compared to 2014, according to early voting data analyzed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
…Three-quarters of Latino voters believe Trump and other Republicans are using “toxic” rhetoric to divide the country, according to a poll conducted by Matt Barreto, professor of political science and Chicana/o studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-founder of the polling firm Latino Decisions.
“They were also tired of the discussion of immigrants in such a negative and racist rhetoric,” said Barreto, who was hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2015. “This was a very strong mobilizing issue in the Latino community.”
In analysis for The Atlantic, Ron Brownstein captures the political damage of the GOP embracing Trump and his nativism. Brownstein writes:
“Whatever it augurs for Trump’s own chances, though, the 2018 results underscored how he has truncated the opportunities for congressional Republicans. So long as the party is defined by his racially infused nationalism, it will be a strong competitor in states and House districts dominated by older, blue-collar, and evangelical white voters. But at the same time, the party seems guaranteed to struggle in suburban areas. It will also face growing challenges in Sun Belt states from Democrats who can mobilize an urbanized coalition of Millennials, minorities, and college-educated whites. This year, those voters elected to the Senate Sinema in Arizona and Jacky Rosen in Nevada. And they allowed O’Rourke in Texas and Stacey Abrams in the Georgia governor’s race to run more competitively than any Democrat had in those states for decades. That same formula in 2020 could threaten Republican Senate seats in Colorado, North Carolina, Arizona, and possibly Texas.”
Brownstein also tweeted, “The big question for Rs is how much ground, if any, they can recover in well-educated suburbs anywhere so long as Trump is defining the party around his overt appeals to white racial & cultural resentments & other Rs are not renouncing him for that. My bet is: not much.”
Kerry Eleveld in Daily Kos writes, “Trump sunk Republicans in the midterms; we can help him do it again in 2020:”
As the final weeks of the 2018 midterms closed in, Donald Trump’s desperation was palpable. He was thrashing around about the so-called “caravan” of migrants, ordering U.S. troops to the border, holding impromptu press conferences about executive orders that hadn’t been written, and lamenting the hate-speech inspired pipe bombs and shooting massacres that had thrown Republicans off their game. As Democrats studiously ignored Trump’s repulsive anti-immigrant rants, his raw racist appeals just grew louder and more shrill. And yes, it totally backfired.
…as Trump barreled toward the midterms, he was absolutely convinced that nativism was his ace in the hole, and he trusted his own political instincts above all else. The more frantic he became to win the election, the harder he pounded on the issue and the more it buried GOP candidates in both suburban House races across the country and key Senate races from the Midwest to Sun-Belt states like Arizona and Nevada.
Carla Marinucci of Politico writes an article entitled, “RIP, California GOP: Republicans lash out after midterm election debacle:
Marinucci interviews longtime California-based Republican consultant Mike Madrid, who characterized the state GOP as “in denial of the fact that their continued support of Trump presidency has sealed the fate of the GOP.” Madrid states: “Now, it’s just open warfare. The barbarians have broken through the gates. The army is in full retreat….And everyone acts like it’s normal … Cox was running on that, in California. Are you out of your mind?….We hemorrhaged college-educated Republican voters on Tuesday night. The ‘diploma divide’ is a very real thing. The smaller it gets, the more monolithic is gets. The whiter it gets. The more populist-nationalist it gets. What you’re seeing in the Republican Party is that it’s the party of white identity politics.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Trump’s closing argument closed the door on the GOP’s chances in the races up and down the ballot and across the nation. His despicable appeals to racism and xenophobia may well have mobilized his hardcore base, but more importantly, it mobilized a backlash from every other group of voters in the nation. Young people, Latinos, Asian Americans, African Americans, white educated women, white educated men, independents and reluctant Republicans all joined together to send an unmistakable message to Trump and the GOP: dividing the country by stoking fear of immigrants and pitting white people against people of color is unacceptable. In a showdown between Trump’s blood and soil nationalism and the American of E pluribus unum, those of us who believe in a multiracial and multiethnic America turned out and won big.
Check out America’s Voice’s new infographics from our 2018 election eve polling: