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When Republicans Listen to Stephen Miller’s Political Advice on Immigration, it is Good Political News for Democrats

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Stephen Miller told The Washington Post yesterday that Republicans should make the 2022 midterms all about immigration. Referring to the 2010 midterms, Miller said, “From a purely political standpoint, this is a recipe for Democrats to have an historic drubbing in the midterms if we can make it even as big an issue or bigger than Obamacare.”

But before the political class nods in agreement, it might be wise to consider Miller’s record as a political strategist.

  • In May 2018, Miller told Breitbart News, “The big fight this summer is going to be with the open borders Democratic caucus in Congress. That is the fundamental political contrast and political debate that is unfolding right now. The Democratic party is at grave risk of completely marginalizing itself from the American voters…” The Miller-led strategy of focusing on immigration and migrant caravans backfired on Republicans, who saw Democrats win by the largest midterm margin in American history.
  • In August 2020, Miller told Reuters that Joe Biden’s immigration stance would prove to be “a massive political vulnerability” in the 2020 campaign. Between April and June 2020, the Trump campaign spent more on immigration ads on Facebook than on any other issue and our 2020 ad tracking project and report found that at the presidential level, Trump ran 157 unique ads that employed xenophobic messaging. Yet Biden won 306 electoral college votes and won by more than 7 million votes, while the American public broke ever-more sharply in a pro-immigrant direction.

The reason Miller is terrible at political prognostication is that he is a diehard nativist and the architect of Trump’s cruel and sadistic immigration policies – an approach that backfires with the majority of voters.  

By a 60-24% margin, newly-released February 2021 polling from Morning Consult/Politico finds voters support the citizenship provision of the Biden immigration bill. 

  • The question asked, “As you may know, the White House’s legislation to reform the U.S. immigration system was introduced in Congress this week. Do you support or oppose each of the following policy proposals in the bill? Creating an 8-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are currently living in the United States.” 
  • Voters favor the bill by 60-24%.
  • Intensity is much stronger among pro-citizenship respondents, with 32% “strongly” supporting and 14% “strongly” opposing.
  • Democrats favored the measure 77-10%, Independents 54-26%, and Republicans were split, with 41% supporting and 43% opposing.

Other 2021 polls on citizenship and legal status have similar findings, including:

  • Vox/Data for Progress February 2021 poll: 69-24% support for citizenship.
  • Quinnipiac University February 2021 poll: combined 74-20% support for legalizing undocumented immigrants, with 65% support for citizenship.
  • PRRI January 2021 poll: combined 80-19% support for legalization, with 64% support for citizenship.

Our December 2020 deep-dive on American immigration public opinion and polling (here).

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

Democrats are moving to do what the American people want – COVID relief, economic recovery, immigration reform and more. Meanwhile, Republicans are moving to do what Stephen Miller wants – demonize and dehumanize immigrants aimed at mobilizing their shrinking base.

Miller’s record on policy and politics is clear. He’s evil, and he’s a loser. If Republicans keep listening to him, they are likely to keep losing.