The political downside of Trump’s latest anti-immigrant screeds
President Trump has been tweeting and trash-talking immigrants in what Greg Sargent of the Washington Post correctly characterized as a “jumble of lies and incoherence.” It’s not too early to ask, however: how will Trump’s war on immigrants and basic decency will play in the November midterms?
Trump’s ongoing anti-immigrant record and rhetoric — and the complicity of his fellow Republicans — will undoubtedly harm the GOP’s prospects to maintain control of the House in the 2018 elections. As we’ve already seen in key 2017 and 2018 races, the Republicans’ attempts to run campaigns featuring Trump-like anti-immigrant attacks is simply not working. In some notable races, it is actually backfiring.
As Sahil Kapur explores in a new Bloomberg story, Trump and the Republicans’ role in ending DACA and creating Dreamers’ crisis is likely to be a factor in many races this cycle. As Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic consultant, told Kapur, “To young voters, DACA isn’t an abstraction — it’s their friend, their neighbor, the classmate they’ve grown up with, who the Republican Party was willing to deport.” And Republican pollster Whit Ayres added, “It will be most salient in areas with large numbers of DACA kids, like in California and Texas … Beyond that, it’s primary relevance is symbolic. There are vast swaths of the country where there are almost no DACA kids, but they would still like to see our political system function at a minimal level, which it doesn’t seem to be able to do.”
In congressional districts featuring a high concentration of Latino voters and other voters of color — such as the host of California races in ag-heavy districts in the Central Valley and the swing districts in Orange County — the Trump immigration record and the GOP’s will be an anchor on the re-election prospects of California’s Republican congressional delegation.
Recent CNN polling captured the national mood on immigration politics. Not only do Americans support protecting Dreamers by an 83-12% margin and across party lines, but a combined 64% of voters hold Trump and the GOP responsible for the failure to protect Dreamers — President Trump (33%) and congressional Republicans (31%) — while only 17% hold congressional Democrats responsible. Meanwhile, 73% of voters said that immigration was either “extremely” or “very important” to their 2018 vote and Democrats were more passionately engaged on issue than Republicans, with 48% of Democrats describing immigration as “extremely important” to their 2018 vote, compared to 32% of Republicans.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “In battleground congressional districts across America, Trump’s anti-immigrant obsessions — and the GOP’s willingness to go along with him — will hurt the re-election prospects of Republican incumbents. When Trump plays to his base with his xenophobia and bigotry, it drives away tolerant suburban voters, threatens America’s perishable crop industry, and energizes young people and voters of color. If you are a voter that believes in the basic decency of immigrants or cares about protections for Dreamers, flipping control of the House is the most important thing we can do to return to more sane and just immigration policies. Keeping Ann Coulter in the fold may be Trump’s priority, but winning back the House is the priority of those who want America to once again be a nation that welcomes newcomers in order to strengthen our country.”