Yesterday, the Republican Party engaged in the kind of racially-charged demagoguery for which the Trump campaign is notorious. In fact, a major theme seemed to be that brown, black, and Muslim people are a danger and a threat to the Republic.
In a new piece for “The Fix,” Phillip Bump of the Washington Post explains that while the anti-immigrant obsession of the Trump campaign, the GOP, and the Republican National Convention may have helped Trump win in a multi-candidate field in the primary, it is not working in the general election. Indeed, it may be backfiring.
The full piece “Donald Trump’s Hard-Right Position on Immigration Has Outlived Its Political Usefulness” is available here and follows below.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) wasted no time during his speech on the first night of the Republican convention in identifying why Donald Trump was victorious.
“This year,” Sessions said, “our voters spoke clearly on two critical issues in our primaries, trade and immigration. They affirmed Donald Trump and his positions, they opposed Obamatrade and they demand a lawful system of immigration that protects their safety and their financial well being.”
The two most important words in that statement are “our voters.”
Trump’s hard-right position on immigration served him well in boosting him to front-runner status in the Republican primary. But in the general, recent polling suggests that it’s not as beneficial — if it’s beneficial at all.
In the most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll published on Sunday, we asked voters which candidate they trusted more to handle the issue of immigration. Overall, voters were more likely to say Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump — including pluralities of nearly every group except white men without college degrees and Republicans.
Nonwhite voters trust Clinton by a margin of 46 points — but white voters overall trust her slightly more, too. Independent voters give Clinton the edge by nine points.
Among registered voters, Clinton has a 15-point advantage. But among all adults the spread is wider, 21 points — and that’s up substantially from May, when Clinton lead on the subject by nine points.
In February, Gallup found that immigration was a much more important issueto Republican voters than Democrats, perhaps unsurprisingly. Among members of both parties, the economy remains the top concern — and on that issue, Trump’s disadvantage disappears. In our new poll, 48 percent of Americans trust Trump more, versus 43 percent who trust Hillary Clinton.
Sessions was definitely preaching to the choir when he celebrated Trump’s position on immigration to a room full of Republican delegates — to “our voters.” Luckily for Trump, that’s not the only song his team is singing. The utility of his hard-right stance on immigration has likely run its course.