Echoing Trump's immigrant-hating rhetoric, Republican candidates are forging campaigns based on hate.
Apparently ditching the GOP tax bill, the failed legislation that was supposed to double as the Republican Party’s signature midterm election issue, candidates are instead going all in on hate.
“Republicans have aired more than 14,000 campaign ads touting a tough Trump-style immigration platform this year,” USA Today reports. “The GOP focus on immigration is particularly striking, given that it was not among the top 10 issues Republicans spent their ad dollars on at this point in the 2014 midterms.”
To date, lots of the immigrant-bashing ads run by Republicans are for primary contests as candidates try to outflank each other on the far-right spectrum. But in terms of positioning themselves for contests against a Democrat, we already know Trump’s racist playbook isn’t moving the needle for the GOP.
And it didn’t work in a New York State Assembly race on Long Island. There, Republicans specifically accused Democrat Steve Stern of coddling MS-13 gangs — Stern became the first Democrat to win that seat in 40 years.
Meanwhile, Rep. Debbie Lesko ran obsessively on the issue of immigration during April’s special election in the Arizona’s extremely GOP-friendly 8th Congressional District, and barely held off the Democratic challenger, Hiral Tipirneni.
Indeed, according to USA Today, some Republican strategists warn that embracing Trump’s toxic rhetoric will haunt candidates in the fall.
“Here’s the problem,” said Frank Luntz, a longtime Republican consultant. “It puts them in a position that the general public will not agree with.”
The clear majority of Americans, 74 percent, support granting permanent legal status to the young undocumented children who were brought to the U.S. by their parents, while 60 percent oppose Trump’s plan to massively expand the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, according to a Pew Research Center poll in January.
Complicating the issue for the Republican Party and its right-wing, anti-immigration candidates is the fact that there’s a vocal faction within in the GOP House that’s aggressively trying to push a bipartisan immigration compromise bill onto the floor for a vote.
Also complicating the issue is the country’s full-employment job rate, and the fact that some states simply can’t find enough workers to fill all the open positions. Those economic factors completely undercut the GOP narrative that a supposed flood of undocumented workers are unfairly taking American jobs.
But in the Trump era, Republicans don’t have many good options.