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Since Voters Strongly Support Immigrants, Want Dreamers to Stay and Oppose the Border Wall, How Does this GOP Immigrant-Bashing Strategy Work Again?

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New NBC/WSJ Poll Suggests Republican Strategy of Stoking Fear of Immigrants in Hopes of Disqualifying Democrats is Meeting Stiff Resistance

The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll is the latest evidence that the Republican strategy to make the midterms an ugly referendum on race and immigration is at odds with the growing pro-immigrant sentiment of the majority of Americans.

The central policy thrust of the Trump administration’s xenophobia is to keep out and kick out immigrants and refugees in order to change the demographic composition of America. The central political thrust of the GOP electoral machine is to define immigrants as the dangerous “other” in order to disqualify Democratic candidates for standing up for them.

This strategy may work to rouse Trump’s rally goers, but it does not appear to be working beyond that narrowing slice of the public. Consider these findings from yesterday’s NBC/WSJ poll:

  • “Would you say that immigration helps the United States more than it hurts it, OR immigration hurts the United States more than it helps it?” By a 61-28% margin, voters overwhelmingly said immigration helps America.
  • Asked 19 times since 2005, this is the most positive response in the poll’s history. The net positive 33 percentage point margin is the largest; the 61% “helps” figure the highest; and the 28% “hurts” figure the lowest ever recorded in this poll.
  • Since 2005, voters have swung 49 percentage points in a pro-immigration direction. The current +33 margin in the pro-immigrant direction compares to a 37-53% (-16) finding when the poll first asked this question in 2005.
  • When asked if they were more likely to vote for a congressional candidate that “favors a program that allows young adults who were brought to this country illegally by their parents when they were children to stay here legally to attend college or work,” 58% of voters said yes, 22% said no — the highest rating of all the policy issues tested in the poll.
  • Asked if they were more likely to vote for a congressional candidate that “favors increasing funding for a wall along the border with Mexico, 29% of voters said yes, 55% said no.

Despite such findings, the Trump White House and Republican campaigns are doubling down on xenophobia as a centerpiece of their their midterm strategy. GOP candidates and party leadership PACS are spending millions on ad buys that stoke fears of immigrants in a desperate attempt to whip up and turn out their base and distract voters from President Trump’s scandals and the GOP’s abysmal record on kitchen table issues. Mark Barabak of the Los Angeles Times explored this dynamic this weekend in a sharp piece entitled “Forget Trump and demonize Democrats as wild-eyed radicals — that’s the Republican midterm strategy,”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

The Trump base may cheer and chant when Trump yells that he’s building the wall and that Mexico will pay for it, but in the fact-based world, neither claim is true. What is true is that strong majorities oppose the stupid wall idea, think immigrants are good for the country, and want Dreamers — threatened with deportation by Trump’s termination of DACA — to stay at home, right here in America.

Moreover, majorities want their leaders to bridge racial differences to solve our challenges related to healthcare, education, wages, retirement and more, not divide the country along racial and ethnic lines to cover for the fact that Republicans looted the treasury to line the pockets of their big donors. The GOP’s divide-and-distract strategy is as desperate as it is obvious, and it’s hard to imagine that it’s going to work come November. We’ll see soon enough.