As the Republican field continues to double-down on positions defined by anti-immigrant hostility, two new pieces out today explain how this lurch to the right is not just out of sync with the American public, it’s out of sync with the facts, too.
In a new National Journal piece, Ron Brownstein captures how the cultural views of Republican voters and contenders remains out of step with the majority of the public. He writes:
“Republicans have many reasons for optimism about the 2016 presidential election, but the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released this week shows again that social issues may be their biggest obstacle in recapturing the White House next year.
“On every major cultural issue the survey tested, more Americans endorsed positions that the Democratic nominee is likely to support next year, while in almost every case most Republican primary voters embraced the minority view…
“Cumulatively, the survey underscores the sense that Democrats now represent a ‘coalition of transformation’ comfortable with the demographic and cultural changes upending American life while the GOP represents a ‘coalition of restoration’ that largely revolves around the groups most unsettled by the changes.
“For instance, by an overwhelming majority of 69 percent to 26 percent, likely GOP primary voters said they would end birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants, as Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, and other GOP presidential candidates have proposed. But a 53 percent to 42 percent majority of all Americans said they would preserve birthright citizenship…
“The contrast was even more striking on the question of eliminating federal funding for Planned Parenthood, as House Republicans and the leading GOP presidential candidates have urged. Likely GOP primary voters backed the idea by 60 percent to 35 percent; but the public overall rejected the idea by virtually the same margin, 61 percent no, to 35 percent yes.
“The survey also underscored the extent to which shared cultural values underpin the heavily urbanized contemporary Democratic coalition, which relies primarily on votes from the millennial generation, racial minorities, and college-educated whites (particularly women).
“For the sprawling Republican field, these results reinforce the challenge of appealing to a primary base largely alienated from the cultural and demographic trends making modern America, without alienating the majority of general-election voters largely comfortable with these changes.”
And public polling is just one place where the Republican Party has it wrong. They’re struggling with the facts too.
A new headline in the Washington Post sums up the Party’s problem on immigration perfectly: “The biggest ideas underpinning the anti-immigration movement aren’t backed up by data.”
In the piece, Storyline writer Jeff Guo lifts up a new study from the National Academies of Sciences, which takes down some of the GOP’s favorite false assertions about immigrants and their families. As Guo writes:
“America’s immigrants, as it turns out, are doing alright.
“The report presents a catalog of current data on the foreign-born, but perhaps its most valuable contribution is the historical context. For a nation that takes pride in its immigrant heritage, America has an tradition of denigrating newcomers. As the report points out:
“‘Many descendants of immigrants who are fully integrated into U.S. society remember the success of their immigrant parents and grandparents but forget the resistance they encountered—the riots where Italians were killed, the branding of the Irish as criminals who were taken away in “paddy wagons,” the anti-Semitism that targeted Jewish immigrants, the racist denial of citizenship to Chinese immigrants, and the shameful internment of Japanese American citizens.
“‘This historical amnesia contributes to the tendency to celebrate the nation’s success in integrating past immigrants and to worry that somehow the most recent immigrants will not integrate and instead pose a threat to American society and civic life.’
“Immigration has of course changed in recent decades, both in both complexion and in the kinds of challenges that newcomers face. But in many of the ways that matter, the situation is the same as it ever was: immigrants quietly striving — and mostly succeeding.”
Guo goes on to highlight four key dispelled notions about immigrants in the report, including the fact that they’re “picking up English just as quickly as their predecessors”; they “tend to have more education than before”; they are “much less likely to commit crimes”; and, lastly, that “immigrants are more likely to have jobs than the native-born.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Republicans are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. At some point, the GOP will have a reckoning. You can’t be on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the facts and the wrong side of the majority of voters and prosper as a party. But given the lack of backbone and leadership from within today’s GOP, it may take a wave election – or two – to jar modernizing Republicans into standing up – for facts over myths, for voters over anger, and for dealing with America as it is rather than imagining a return to an America that never was.”