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Political Memo: The GOP’s Failing Strategy to Win Elections By Attacking Immigrants

 

Democrats Can Win by Leaning in, Staying Focused

A new political memo from America’s Voice released today highlights how in red, purple, and blue states alike, Republicans have made attacks on sanctuary cities and immigration a key component of their political strategy this cycle. But, as the results of Tuesday’s special election in PA-18 exemplify, the GOP’s anti-immigrant attacks aren’t working – and in some cases, may be backfiring.

The new AV memo presents an overview of the role of the GOP’s immigration attacks in key races this cycle; a recap of the Democratic candidates’ stances and engagement on immigration; and key lessons learned for the rest of the cycle. The memo examines the PA-18 congressional special election; the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey; and races as varied as the Alabama Senate special election, county executive races in New York, and the special election for Florida’s House District 72. Importantly, in each of these races, the Republicans’ anti-immigrant strategy failed.

According to Pili Tobar, Managing Director for America’s Voice:

Just because the Republicans’ anti-immigrant attacks haven’t worked, doesn’t mean that they won’t keep trying. In races of all varieties this cycle, we’re going to see GOP candidates following the cues of the Trump White House and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and running on ugly, anti-immigrant attacks. Instead of shaking in their boots, Democrats shouldn’t take the bait, rather they should stand up for American values, propose workable solutions, and denounce divisiveness in order to continue the Republican losing streak when running hard on anti-immigrant attacks.

Lessons learned are as follows:

  • The Republican attacks on immigration and sanctuary policies are not working and in some cases are backfiring (see the statewide races in NJ and VA). Still, Republicans are expected to run on xenophobia this fall, in part because they have so little else to run on.
  • Red state and district Democrats shouldn’t take the bait, run for the hills, or adopt hardline positions in the face of these attacks. As Conor Lamb and Doug Jones show, candidates can win by remaining disciplined on core messaging priorities and maintaining support for common sense, pro-immigrant policies when asked.
  • Blue and purple state Democrats can and should lean in on immigration, in recognition that Republican attacks motivate key base voters and alienate swing voters.