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Trump’s Border Wall Shutdown: The Numbers Don’t Add Up

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A Political Blunder in the Making

If the mercurial President follows through on his promise to own a government shutdown in a temper tantrum over funding for his pet project — the wasteful, unpopular and insulting border wall — it won’t be because the White House has run the numbers.

From the beginning, President Trump’s obsession with demonizing immigrants has been the cornerstone of his candidacy and time in office. The anti-immigrant obsession has now spread and been adopted by the entire GOP. The closing argument of the GOP in the 2018 election centered on a deliberate strategy of division and distraction. In the end, the American people resoundingly rejected this ugliness.

Yet here we are, with the GOP and Trump seemingly incapable of accepting defeat and once again driving America to a place it does not want to go. Shutting down the government over his border wall would be an ego-driven political blunder that hurts Republicans and ignores key lessons from the 2018 cycle.

Below are some key numbers the White House and GOP leadership might want to consider:

  • 69% “not a priority;” 28% “immediate priority:” December polling from NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll asked “Do you think building a wall between the US and Mexico should be an immediate priority for Congress, should not be an immediate priority, or the issue should not be a priority at all for Congress? 50% of respondents said “not a priority at all,” with an additional 19% saying “not an immediate priority,” compared to just 28% who said an “immediate priority.” The same poll also found that by a 57-36% margin, respondents said “President Trump should compromise on the border wall to prevent gridlock” over “President Trump should not compromise on the border wall even if it means a government shutdown.”
  • 12% — margin late deciders broke for Democrats; 63% — less likely to support Republicans based on border/caravan: New analysis from Republican pollster David Winston, highlighted by David Drucker of the Washington Examiner, highlights how Trump’s xenophobic closing arguments in the 2018 midterms backfired: “The closing focus in the final days of the campaign was on the immigration/caravan message, popular with the base and those at President Trump’s rallies but also controversial and divisive, particularly with independents. The people who made their decision over the last few days voted Democratic by a 12-point margin.” As Drucker summarized of Winston’s analysis, “voters broadly were 59 percent less likely to back Republicans after hearing from them on immigration and 63 percent less likely to support them based on the issues of border security and the migrant caravan.”
  • 40 seats; 62 million Democratic votes; 9% margin; 6 governorships, 380 state legislative seats: Trump and the GOP closed on immigration and the caravan, complete with racist ads, threats of changing the Constitution, and fear mongering of epic proportions. The suffered a defeat of historic proportions. If elections have consequences, they Republicans should accept them and concede defeat.
  • 2020 — trouble ahead: A new Washington Post story by Michael Scherer report that, “Republican allies of President Trump are researching new ways to position him in the run-up to the 2020 election, particularly among the college-educated suburbanites who voted for Democrats in November because of their disapproval of the president.” Here’s a hint — shutting down the government over Trump’s stupid border wall won’t exactly help make inroads with these voters.
  • 22 Seats: There are 22 Republican-held Senate seats up for re-election in 2020. Enabling and supporting a government shutdown over Trump’s border wall vanity project won’t be a helpful way for many of these GOP incumbents to kick off the start of their re-election cycles.
  • 39 Votes: After rejecting a handful of bipartisan compromise proposals, President Trump and Stephen Miller tried to use the crisis they created for Dreamers to ram through a far-reaching wishlist of anti-immigrant policies last February. Yet the White House-backed proposal only received 39 votes in the Senate and went down by a 39-60 vote margin. The 39 votes were the fewest votes among the host of Senate immigration bills voted on during February 2018.
  • 420,000 and 380,000: Per analysis from Senator Leahy’s appropriations staff, a Trump shutdown would cause 420,000 workers, including more than 41,000 federal law enforcement and correctional officers, to work without pay over the holidays. An additional 380,000 employees would be furloughed just ahead of Christmas.