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Three Reminders Why Trump’s Xenophobia is On a Losing Streak

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Yesterday’s Senate Rebuke the Latest Reminder That “He’s a Weak President with Little to Run On in 2020 Besides Spreading Lies, Stoking Fear and Exploiting Racial Grievance”

Yesterday’s Senate vote was a bipartisan rebuke of President Trump – underscoring, as Frank Sharry noted, that he is a “weak president with little to run on in 2020 besides spreading lies, stoking fear and exploiting racial grievance.”

As Trump gears up for an ugly 2020 re-election campaign, below are three reminders why his xenophobia is on a losing streak:

1. Xenophobia backfired in 2018 after Trump made the election homestretch a referendum on the “scary” migrant caravan. President Trump and Republicans spent the closing weeks of the 2018 midterms hyping the fake threat of the scary migrant caravan – a transparent attempt to stoke fear that brown people fleeing violence and instability in Central America and seeking asylum were an existential threat to America. The result? Democrats won the popular vote by the largest midterm margin in history, flipping 40 House seats, limiting Senate losses, and making huge inroads in state capitals. Analysts such as Republican pollster David Winston, Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, and journalist Ron Brownstein concluded that Trump’s strategy and the GOP’s complicity directly contributed to the GOP’s electoral wipeout.

2. Instead of learning the lesson that xenophobia backfired, Trump embarked on a rerun of the same failed strategy and shut down the government over the stupid border wall, followed by the unconstitutional emergency declaration power grab. By demonizing immigrants, dividing the country and demanding the country bend the knee on his unpopular border wall, Trump kicked off the longest government shutdown in American history. The predictable result? Xenophobia backfired, again. With polls showing that the strong majority of the American public blamed Trump and the GOP for the shutdown and opposed the border wall, Trump and the GOP were forced to re-open the government without winning any concessions. This was on top of the fact that Trump inflicted pain and suffering on millions of Americans in a futile attempt to get what he couldn’t get when his party controlled all the branches of the government.

Then, the Trump team doubled down, announcing the unpopular and unconstitutional emergency declaration and attempting to divert congressionally-appropriated money to fund the stupid border wall. And in an attempt to justify that there’s a crisis that only a border wall will fix, the administration has been relying on a vicious cycle of circular logic and lies to try and portray a crisis at the border (one that their policies have helped worsen).

3. As Trump gears up for an ugly re-election effort, remember the American public is broadly united on immigration – overwhelmingly against Trump and the GOP approach. As many gauges of public opinion make clear, xenophobia has backfired and Trump’s worldview is losing. As we have highlighted in detail, voters now trust Democrats more than Trump and Republicans on border security issues, per several recent polls. And during the Trump presidency, Americans have in fact become more pro-immigrant by a number of measures. A recent Gallup poll, for example, shows strong and growing opposition to the border wall, with intensity much stronger on the side of wall opponents. The Gallup poll also found that an overwhelming majority of Americans —81 percent — support citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Trump may be mobilizing white grievance voters but he’s also mobilizing the majority of Americans against his racialized divisiveness. The Trumpian base may wag the Republican dog, but we shouldn’t mistake a Republican primary audience with majority American sentiment.