Deep Dive Polling Shows Why His Immigration Closing Argument Backfired
Michelangelo Signorile pens a powerful piece for HuffPost entitled, “Donald Trump Is Losing, And He Knows It” (excerpts below):
Trump and certainly his political aides must see that his greatest campaign weapon ― viciously assaulting immigrants and people of color with racist rhetoric and actions ― misfired spectacularly in the midterms and is likely to do the same in 2020.
Without that, Trump’s pretty much got nothing.
…Beto O’Rourke, however, spoke out forcefully against Trump’s brutal war on immigrants, and, in a stunner for Texas, lost by only 2.6 percentage points against Sen. Ted Cruz, shading Texas purple for the presidential race. Republican Sen. Dean Heller lost in Nevada, as did Republican Nevada gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt. The state, which Hillary Clinton won in 2016, now seems out of reach for Trump.
And Arizona elected its first Democrat to an open Senate seat there since the 1970s, putting that state in play for 2020. All three are states in which large Latino populations and other groups who cared about the attacks on immigrants were mobilized, activating many people who might not vote regularly to turn out.
…Assaulting immigrants also seemed to backfire in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the three states Trump narrowly won in 2016, and which he’ll need again. Democratic senators up for re-election in those states won by big margins ― by speaking out forcefully against Trump. The governors’ seats in Wisconsin and Michigan flipped to blue, and Pennsylvania re-elected a Democratic governor. In both Michigan and Pennsylvania, the Democratic gubernatorial candidates won by 9 points or more.
…Trump’s conspiracies about caravan invaders doesn’t appear to have had any positive effect for him in these states in 2018, and it’s doubtful anything similar would in 2020.”
Deep dive polling from More in Common and the New American Election Eve poll show why Trump’s reliance on racism and xenophobia backfired.
In the More in Common post-election polling, a poll of some 3,200 participants in a long-term segmentation research project found that increased turnout among the more liberal segments and decreased turnout among the more conservative segments proved to be more significant in driving outcomes than voters switching sides.
Moreover, as captured in Figure 6 on page 14 of the report, the breakdown of issue priorities by segment tells a fascinating story. Asked to rank the top three issues, immigration (25%) ranked high but lower than healthcare (48%) and economy/jobs (38%). But the study goes deeper, and finds that the disapproval of Trump (32%), objections to racism (15%) and opposition to child separation (5%) were more powerful than conservative support for Trump (17%), border security (14%) and the caravan (7%).
That’s right: after weeks of making the caravan the central focus of his closing argument, a grand total of 7% of voters listed it as a top three issue.
The American Election Eve battleground congressional poll comes at it differently but comes up with similar conclusions. After interviewing 9,400 certain voters, a polling consortium of Latino Decisions, Asian American Decisions and the African American Research Collaborative found that, like the More in Common poll, voters rated healthcare (34%) and the economy/jobs (21%) as their most important policy issues. On immigration, which ranked high, they were given two options: 16% chose “border security” and 16% chose “immigration reform/DACA.” This finding shows that immigration breaks both ways, and challenges the assumption that immigration is an issue that is only a priority among Republicans.
When the same poll asked a forced choice question: “During the 2018 election candidates said a lot of different things about immigration. Which statement on immigration do you agree with more? A) America has too many illegal immigrants, they hurt the economy, bring crime and gang violence to our cities. We have to crack down on illegal immigration.” Or B) Immigrants just want to provide a better life for their families, just like you and me. I support legislation to make America more welcoming to immigrants.” Results: Option A 42%; Option B 55%. This suggests a majority of Americans are pro-immigrant, but a substantial minority are sympathetic to Trump’s framing.
However, the American Election Eve poll also found that there is strong support for the Democratic response to Trump’s framing. Respondents in competitive House districts were asked whether they agree or not with the following statement: “In 2018, many Republicans made attacks on immigrants’ part of their campaigns. It’s obvious we need to reform our immigration policies but calling immigrants rapists and gang members accomplishes nothing. Congress should work together on bipartisan immigration reform and put the issue to rest, and address important issues like improving wages, lowering the cost of healthcare so we have more money in our pockets.” An overwhelming 86-11% agreed with the statement, which captures the message adopted by most Democratic candidates.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “It turns out that racism and xenophobia mobilized more voters against Trump and the GOP than for them. Yes, the hardcore base voters for Trump and the GOP respond to a message anchored in racial grievance, but more voters are disgusted and mobilized by it. With the GOP having nothing but plutocracy and inequality on offer for workers, and ethno-nationalism a losing strategy, Mike Signorile gets it right as we look to 2020: ‘Trump’s pretty much got nothing.’”