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Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions in the New York Times: Trump Thinks He’s Still Winning on Immigration

 

Never mind what the election results say.

Dr. Matt Barreto, political scientist and co-founder of Latino Decisions, is out with an op-ed in today’s New York Times that highlights the massive turnout of Latino voters in 2018, and the massive rejection of Trump’s xenophobia by the majority of voters, led by people of color:

In the 2018 midterm elections, as the world saw, Mr. Trump and the Republican Party charted out a campaign strategy that focused heavily on stoking fears about immigrants….But it didn’t work. Enough whites did not feel motivated by Mr. Trump’s immigrant bashing to vote for Republicans. On the other hand, millions of Latinos, African-Americans and Asian-Americans were motivated by it to vote for Democrats.

He concludes with a prophetic message for 2020:

Perhaps worse news for the Republican Party is that many Latino voters view Mr. Trump’s deeds, words — and the man himself — as racist, and the 2018 election demonstrated that the community is eagerly awaiting its chance to vote him out in 2020.

Barreto’s op-ed is excerpted below and available in full here.

Despite major defeats in 2018, President Trump and his Republican supporters are still screaming about so-called border security, demonizing migrants, unleashing tear gas on asylum-seekers and demanding billions in taxpayer money for a wall. It’s as though Mr. Trump continues to see himself descending that escalator in 2015 to bash Mexican immigrants. In 2018, this was a recipe for losing the House. The new showdown over the $5 billion border wall is likely to further alienate Mr. Trump from a majority of Americans.

In the 2018 midterm elections, as the world saw, Mr. Trump and the Republican Party charted out a campaign strategy that focused heavily on stoking fears about immigrants. Their closing argument couldn’t have been clearer. Republicans were blaring racist statements and ominous images of immigrants, calling them murderers, rapists and invaders. They hoped these ads, run by Republican candidates up and down the ticket, would resonate with white Americans who would save their House majority.

But it didn’t work. Enough whites did not feel motivated by Mr. Trump’s immigrant bashing to vote for Republicans. On the other hand, millions of Latinos, African-Americans and Asian-Americans were motivated by it to vote for Democrats.

… As Mr. Trump continues his anti-immigrant agenda in his fight with the likely new House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, it is important not to lose sight of just how thorough the defeat of anti-immigrant candidates was in the midterms. Sure, some anti-immigrant candidates won, but those were mainly in very heavily Republican districts, and even some supposedly safe Republicans lost. Prominent Republicans who championed Mr. Trump’s immigrant bashing lost their election bids, from Kris Kobach in Kansas to Lou Barletta in Pennsylvania, and from Corey Stewart in Virginia to Dana Rohrabacher in California.

The national immigration advocacy group America’s Voice has compiled a list of 31 House Republican candidates in 2018 who echoed Mr. Trump and lost their elections. In Arizona, Republicans had high hopes for Martha McSally to hold Jeff Flake’s Senate seat, but she ended up supporting Mr. Trump’s full immigration agenda, and she lost, in part, because of Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant message. Although Ron DeSantis, an anti-immigrant Republican, won the governor’s race in Florida, he was one of the few successes among a string of defeats. In Nevada, the incumbent Republican, Dean Heller, invited the president to stump for him. Mr. Trump railed against immigrant gang members. Senator Heller lost to a proponent of immigration reform, Jacky Rosen.

So did Republican attacks on immigrants mobilize any voters in 2018? Yes, but it came in the form of Latino voters who reversed their record-low turnout in 2014 with record-high turnout in 2018. In the Election Eve poll, 73 percent of Latinos said Mr. Trump made them angry, while 72 percent said that they felt disrespected. Forty-eight percent of Latino voters agreed that Mr. Trump is a racist whose policies are intended to hurt Latinos, and 27 percent said that Trump policies have had a negative impact on Latinos, while 18 percent said Mr. Trump was having a positive impact on Latinos.

… So what does this mean for 2020? First, it’s going to be much harder for Mr. Trump and Republicans to persuade Americans that immigrants are ruining our country. Before Mr. Trump took office, Republicans were more trusted than Democrats on immigration, but now it’s Democrats who are more trusted.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump will continue attacking immigrants in 2019 and 2020. Indeed, he vows to shut down the federal government to get his border wall. While he is likely to get standing ovations at his rallies when he denigrates immigrants, the number of voters who favor his immigration agenda is shrinking. Perhaps worse news for the Republican Party is that many Latino voters view Mr. Trump’s deeds, words — and the man himself — as racist, and the 2018 election demonstrated that the community is eagerly awaiting its chance to vote him out in 2020.