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Trump’s latest race-baiting

July 18, 2019

Trump’s latest rhetoric was about suggesting that minority members of Congress ‘go back to where they came from’. How will this effect the 2020 election?

It seems the intention of Republican strategists is that this will put the spotlight even more on immigration issues, which they believe energizes their base. Centrist Democrats, lacking confidence in their own handling of the issue, seem to fear this for some reason.

They shouldn’t. If Trump takes it there, the only thing to do is respond with

(1) Strong, unequivocal condemnation. Key word: UNEQUIVOCAL.

(2) Don’t fund Trump’s DHS you flippin morons. Do not talk about the importance of “reaching across the aisle” while this is the main news item. What happened to the full-court-press ‘resistance’ thing, that was so prominent while russiagate was the thing? Now might be an appropriate time to actually do that.

(3) Don’t attack members of your own party who led the way on this issue.

(4) Make a point of not insulting Trump’s voters or accusing them of being racist. DO accuse Trump, and attack whatever dumb ass words he transmits over Jack Dorsey’s unfortunate invention.

(5) DO nominate a candidate who has an unwavering record on social justice, does not flipflop, and does not hedge their statement of their position on the issue. (i.e., if you want to win, do the exact opposite of the way Kerry talked about the Iraq War issue in 2004). Sanders, Warren, and plausibly Harris would fit this description. Biden would NOT. If Immigration is the defining issue of the election, Biden is least positioned to pick up on the outrage-energy driving Dem voters. His game is status quo.

If the Democratic response is done right, they will pick up votes in several key states which are marginal, in particular FL, AZ due to demographics, and PA is affected by moving the focus away from economy.

  • The AZ senate seat will become a realistic target, and its electoral votes too. Unlike 2018, the Dem AZ Senate nominee this time is looking like it will be a white dude, which would otherwise have put this out of reach. But now it’s perhaps back on if the Spanish speaking vote can turn out in even larger numbers than 2018.
  • FL, of course, always one of the pivotal electoral vote states. Until now, it seemed to favor Republicans a tiny bit for 2020 – at least per demographic correlations via the Morning Consult poll series. Historically, FL has not benefited Dems relative to its Hispanic population as much other states. This can now change.
    • related: refugees from Puerto Rico, previously disenfranchised US citizens, ~150k of whom moved to FL since that hurricane, and are potentially able to vote for the first time.
  • Last but certainly not least: PA. It is the other main swing electoral vote state on my list. I would even say the sine qua non state for the 2020 presidential election. The Democrat objective there is squeezing every last vote out of Philly and eastern PA, meaning the turnout game for younger voters and minorities. Responding to blatant race-baiting by Republicans is actually one of the easier approaches to execute going door to door in Democratic neighborhoods, to get marginal voters up off their butts (I’ve done it). But once again, it will be more convincing, relatively speaking, for Sanders/Warren/Harris, and less so, relatively speaking, for Biden. To be sure, Biden is a hit with the Democrats who are older (the best voters)- but they can be counted on to vote for whoever is the Democrat nominee. They are not the marginal voters in a general election for president. Meanwhile, the PA Trump campaign will try to harvest rural votes obviously, but also, the working class industrial belt in Erie-Pittsburgh. This region is a relatively even mix of partisanship. On the basis of inland working class culture, and excluding the black population, they are relatively more sympathetic to the Trump campaign’s “economy” angle, and relatively less sympathetic to coastal/urban cultural consensus of outrage against Trump. PA is definitely up for grabs, and I think it would normally be played by Republicans as an “economy” state – something not that great for Dems, since for most people, there is less outrage factor in “economy”, thus less motivational for younger voters.
    • side note 1: Sanders and Warren are working on that… there should be outrage factor in “economy”
    • side note 2: see previous post. Immigration and Economy are actually closely linked in the same way people opposing NAFTA is an economy/pocketbook issue rather than “isolationism” for its own sake. But if you focus specifically on the cruelty and racism, the story plays out differently.

To summarize, in an immigration-centric election, Trump will get some boost too, but it is mostly regardless of who the Dem nominee is. Dems have potential to get an even bigger boost in vital states, with a progressive (including immigration) candidate, and a direct unequivocal message and delivery. That is, if they don’t screw it up.

So don’t screw it up.

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