tags: Press Releases

New America’s Voice Report Documents Scope of GOP Embrace of Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric And Dangerous White Nationalist Conspiracies This Election Cycle

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Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman of Washington Post on new report: “In the world of Republican campaign ads, very little has changed since the xenophobic Trump presidency, and some of what’s in these ads is truly repellent.”

Washington, DC – As Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman highlight in the Washington Post, a new America’s Voice political report documents the scope of Republicans’ reliance on dangerous anti-immigrant rhetoric this election cycle. As they write:

“In the world of Republican campaign ads, very little has changed since the xenophobic Trump presidency, and some of what’s in these ads is truly repellent.

Three themes dominate these ads, the report finds, and they are all wildly inflammatory and profoundly dishonest: The Biden administration has created “open borders,” undocumented immigrants are responsible for fentanyl overdoses and a full-blown “invasion” is underway.

The borders are anything but open; the Biden administration is pursuing, arresting and deporting people seeking to come to the United States by the thousands. The vast majority of fentanyl that comes in is smuggled through ports of entry in cars, boats and planes, not carried by undocumented immigrants. And as for an “invasion,” that’s no more true now than it was when Trump warned that caravans were about to overrun the country…

Meanwhile, the GOP fulminations about immigration — especially the more repulsive stuff that’s in those ads — may be receding to what’s largely a base issue. Even as GOP immigration messaging remains torqued to maximum intensity, and even as border Republicans ramp up wretched stunts like busing migrants into major cities, momentum is shifting toward Democrats in the midterms, including among independents.

‘Republicans are indulging in the worst kind of White nationalist rhetoric,’ Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, told us. ‘And an issue they thought would win over swing voters is at best a base mobilizer for voters they already have.’”

According to Zachary Mueller, America’s Voice Political Director and lead author of the report: “While immigration will not be a top issue for a majority of all voters, it is an important issue for the MAGA base, and Republicans believe, with sparse evidence,  immigrant-bashing favors their electoral prospects. To that end and as we head toward the final months of the general election, GOP candidates across the country will continue to insert into the debate anti-immigrant rhetoric and  dangerous white nationalist conspiracies that have already led to violence. Republicans are basing their nativist messaging on falsehoods about the U.S. having ‘open borders,’ fentanyl is primarily an immigration issue and that there is a conspiracy to replace white voters with immigrants who are entering the U.S. via an organized invasion. But Republicans have no policy solutions on immigration and their cruelty and chaos approach, that has included separating families and blanket bans on asylum, is seen as extreme by a  majority of Americans outside the MAGA base. On immigration, abortion, access to guns and fealty to Donald Trump and his anti-democratic agenda, Republicans are hoping their extremism can win GOP primaries are not liabilities in the general elections.”

Here are the key takeaways from the America’s Voice report “2022 GOP Messaging Tracker: Analysis of Republicans’ Nativist Narrative Leading into the General Election:

  1. Republican candidates will make nativism an issue in the election as a way to rally their base. Leaders throughout the Party, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have made consistent and repeated predictions that their border narrative will be a key part of a midterm victory.  They have followed it up with sustained attention and investment. 
  2. Republican campaigns, superPACs, and political committees are once again spending heavily on anti-immigrant messaging. At America’s Voice, we have found over 2,130 ads and 400 campaign emails that use nativist dog-whistles this cycle. We tracked an average of around 2,700 tweets from Republican candidates and campaigns a month that move anti-immigrant messages. Negative mentions about immigration in right-wing media hover around 4,000 to 6,000 a month
  3. Republicans have three main attack lines: open borders, fentanyl, and “invasion.” All three are based on lies and disinformation. We have identified 360 ads that fear-monger about Democrats’ alleged “open border” policies. We have identified over 330 ads that deploy dog-whistles around drugs and immigration. And over 140 ads that employ the “invasion” and “replacement” rhetoric.  
  4. Republicans have embraced deadly white nationalist conspiracies as an organizing principle, encouraging mass political violence. We have identified over 500 pieces of political messaging that echo the “invasion” and “replacement” conspiracy theories that inspired several domestic terrorists to murder dozens of Americans. As we have seen in Buffalo, El Paso, and elsewhere, these dehumanizing lies can have deadly downstream consequences and fuel anti-democratic attacks.   
  5. Republicans’ nativist border narrative is vulnerable to attack because it is unpopular and untrue. From open borders to fentanyl to invasions, the GOP’s nativist narrative is filled with lies, oversimplifications, and exaggerations.
  6. Republicans have no policy solutions on immigration. There are lots of tweets, photo ops, and tv ads, but very little in the way of actual policy solutions beyond Trump’s wall. Instead, they resort to a cruelty and chaos approach, which the Republican base supports but is wildly unpopular with the rest of the country. The lack of a foundation to the GOP’s narrative makes it ripe for disruption and an opportunity to neutralize this line of attack.