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Leading Voices: Trump’s “White Power”Campaign Is Sinking Trump’s Reelection Bid, and the GOP Can’t Jump Ship

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 A range of leading voices from across the political spectrum agree on the following: Trump is running an openly racist and nativist campaign designed to foment white grievance; his ugly strategy is a sign of his weakness and isn’t working; and down-ballot Republicans who have enabled Trump won’t be able to unlash themselves from the mast as Trump’s ship goes down.

  • Greg Sargent of the Washington Post The Latest Excuses for Trump’s ‘White Power’ Tweet Reveal his Weakness,” includes the assessment, “Trump and his propagandists are actively trying to engineer violent civil conflict, by signaling to white Americans that they are under siege in a race war that they’re losing.”
  • Michelle Goldberg column in the New York Times titled, “Trump’s Reelection Message Is White Grievance notes that many Republicans, “are acting puzzled about Donald Trump’s reelection pitch … It’s hard to know if Republicans like this are truly naïve or if they’re just pretending so they don’t have to admit what a foul enterprise they’re part of. Because Trump does indeed have a reelection message, a stark and obvious one. It is ‘white power.’”
  • A Washington Post reported piece by Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, “Trump’s Push to Amplify Racism Unnerves Republicans Who Have Long Enabled Him,” asserts, “Trump has left little doubt through his utterances the past few weeks that he sees himself not only as the Republican standard-bearer but as leader of a modern grievance movement animated by civic strife and marked by calls for ‘white power.”
  • Leading Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher to the Washington Post, “Without white resentment, there is no rationale for Donald Trump. Without that, what reason do his supporters have to be with Donald Trump if he’s not going to be your tribal strong man? He started there and will end there.”
  • Patrick Gaspard, former White House political director and current president of the Open Society Foundations to the Washington Post: “The Republican Party under Donald Trump has become a party wandering aimlessly in the street talking to itself and responding to itself, and all the rest of us have become the pedestrians trying to avoid that guy.”
  • Former Ohio GOP Governor and Never Trumper John Kasich to the Washington Post about his fellow Republicans: “They coddled this guy the whole time and now it’s like some rats are jumping off of the sinking ship. It’s just a little late … I’m glad to see some of these Republicans moving the other way but it reminds me of Vichy France where they said, ‘Well, I never had anything to do with that.’”
  • Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley in Eli Stokols’s Los Angeles Times political analysis piece titled, “Trump, in a Hole, Digs Deeper into Racial Incitement.” Brinkley notes, “History will look at the Trump years as being a reactionary right-wing movement that saw America was becoming 60% nonwhite and panicked. When the economy crashed and George Floyd was murdered, Trump had cement feet. He went back to a tired old playbook, and he lost the center in America. If you were a conservative, center-right voter, you’re now looking to get rid of him.”
  • Center-right syndicated Washington Post columnist Max Boot’s latest, titled, “Trump is Running an Openly Racist Campaign,” notes, “Trump is running an openly racist campaign at odds with public opinion that has shifted against Confederate monuments and in favor of Black Lives Matter. So he prefers to pretend that he is battling against the unreasonable demands of ‘cancel culture’ — and his supporters pretend to believe him. But everyone knows that what he is really defending is not ‘our freedom’ or ‘our history,’ as he said on Friday, but, rather, ‘white power.’”
  • Liberal columnist E.J. Dionne’s newest syndicated column, “A Vicious Culture War is All Trump Has Left,” notes, “Trump’s spiteful and hostile moves on a weekend when we celebrate the equal rights of all to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are alarming. But they are also a sign of weakness.”
  • Center-right syndicated Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin’s latest, titled,Trump’s ‘Toe-tally-terry-tism’ Speech,” notes, “It is all froth, anger and white resentment at this point. His enemies are other Americans; his understanding of American greatness is utterly defective. Reform, progress and inclusion are threats to his base, oozing with white grievance.” 

A host of recent polls show that Trump’s racism and xenophobia isn’t working and is actively turning off many voters, while the America’s Voice 2020 Ad Watch resource, which is tracking xenophobic and anti-immigrant ads, reminds us that many Republicans are running on the same racist, divide-to-conquer themes as Trump: 

  • By a 77-19% margin, Gallup finds a record-high number of Americans think immigration is a “good thing” rather than a “bad thing” for the country. Gallup has asked that question 19 times previously, going back to 2001. The current 77% support for “immigration is a good thing” is the highest ever recorded; the 19% support for “bad thing” is tied for the lowest ever; and the 58-point margin between “good thing” and “bad thing” is the greatest differential Gallup has ever recorded.
  • NYTimes/Siena polling finds Trump-to-Biden voters oppose Trump’s racism and xenophobia. Recent NYT/Siena deep-dive polling identified and analyzed that small but significant slice of battleground state voters who backed Trump in 2016 but back Biden in 2020. The top two reasons why? Biden will unite the country; and Trump has made race relations worse. Down the list some, but still making the cut as a top reason for the shift: immigration. By a margin of more than 50 percentage points, former Trump voters “trust Biden to do a better job handling immigration.”
  • Polling summary on DACA/Dreamers and family separation shows overwhelming opposition to Trump’s policies. The Trump administration faces two major decisions on what’s next for DACA and family separations, following recent legal rulings against them. This recent poll roundup from America’s Voice shows that the American public is overwhelmingly in favor of Dreamers and DACA across party lines and that the backlash against Trump’s family separations crossed ideologies – warning signs for an administration that may again inject both issues into the 2020 election cycle (see here for a roundup on DACA/Dreamers polling and family separation polling)
  • Check out America’s Voice’s 2020 Ad Watch for reminders that many Republicans are joining Trump in emphasizing ugly, racist, and xenophobic ads: http://2020adwatch.com/