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Trump’s Immigration Rhetoric Rallied the Base. But It Also Backfired

Trump’s Immigration Rhetoric Rallied the Base. But It Also Backfired

President Trump’s efforts to whip up concern round immigration in the closing days of the midterm cycle could have helped some Republicans clinch wins round the nation.

But in locations like the numerous Denver suburbs, it had the reverse impact.

“We are a part of this nation,” mentioned Saad Salim, who fled Iraq together with his household in 2005 and voted towards Mike Coffman, a Republican congressman representing a swing district the place almost one in 5 residents is foreign-born.

Mr. Coffman had constructed ties to immigrant communities and tried to distance himself from Mr. Trump’s immigration insurance policies, however on Election Day, immigrants in his district from El Salvador, Ghana, Burkina Faso and past mentioned they wished to ship a message about these insurance policies by voting towards Republicans. Mr. Coffman, who had survived various Democratic challenges earlier than, misplaced to his opponent, Jason Crow, by 9 factors.

In the closing weeks of the marketing campaign, Mr. Trump led the Republican Party in pumping out darkish narratives about the risks of unlawful immigrants. Voter surveys and political analysts say the invective appeared to assist Republicans maintain the Senate. But it additionally backfired in locations like Colorado and Kansas, the place some reasonable and extremely educated conservatives felt alienated and broke to the left.

Mr. Trump traveled to Indiana thrice in the two months earlier than Election Day, serving to Mike Braun oust the incumbent Democrat, Joe Donnelly. During raucous rallies, Mr. Trump falsely claimed that the Democrats wished to “invite caravan after caravan” of asylum seekers into the United States. He added, “A blue wave will equal a criminal offense wave, and a purple wave will equal legislation and security.”

It was in Indiana the place the president used his finger to attract in the air the center preliminary of his predecessor, Barack Hussein Obama, in an obvious nod to “birtherism,” a conspiracy idea over Mr. Obama’s citizenship that Mr. Trump has fueled.

“It’s no shock Joe Donnelly is holding a rally this weekend with Barack H. Obama,” Mr. Trump declared with the added emphasis.

Mr. Donnelly had been seen as particularly weak: The president gained the state of Indiana by 19 factors in 2016. Mr. Donnelly tried to guard himself by veering to the proper on immigration, touting his help for a border wall and for growing cooperation between the police and immigration authorities. Toward the finish of his marketing campaign, he started to name out the “radical left,” hoping to distance himself from the most liberal members of his social gathering.

His makes an attempt weren’t sufficient to fulfill voters. He misplaced to Mr. Braun on Tuesday by a large margin.

But there was a transparent hazard on Tuesday for Republicans working in reasonable battlegrounds who relied too closely on Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda.

In Virginia, Representative Dave Brat aligned himself with Mr. Trump on the border wall and journey ban, and on Tuesday he was narrowly defeated largely due to a backlash from suburban voters. In Pennsylvania, Scott Wagner ended his Republican bid for governor with a marketing campaign advert warning voters that “a harmful caravan of illegals careens to the border” and that the Democratic incumbent, Tom Wolf, was doing nothing to cease it. Mr. Wagner misplaced by almost 17 factors.

Perhaps the starkest instance was in Kansas, a deep purple state, the place Kris Kobach hoped to capitalize on a fame he had constructed over many years as an immigration hard-liner and shut ally of Mr. Trump.

During the George W. Bush administration, Mr. Kobach helped to create a system for monitoring Muslims that was later dismantled by Mr. Obama. He additionally drafted controversial immigration legal guidelines in Arizona that have been enforced by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, one other buddy of the president and the recipient of his first presidential pardon.

After investigating voter fraud by unlawful immigrants in his personal state, Mr. Kobach was appointed as vice chairman of Mr. Trump’s fee to research the situation on a nationwide degree. (Neither effort turned up proof of fraud and the president’s fee was later dismantled.)

Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Kobach in his marketing campaign to interchange the Republican incumbent governor of Kansas, Jeff Colyer. But voters rejected Mr. Kobach on Tuesday. In one other race, they picked a Democratic challenger, Sharice Davids, to be the first Native American girl to serve in Congress. The state Republican Party had run advertisements suggesting that Ms. Davids supported unlawful immigration.

“It’s only a whole nightmare for them, utterly pushed by these hard-line insurance policies,” mentioned Todd Schulte, president of the pro-immigration group FWD.us. Mr. Schulte added, “The Republican Party committee spent a ton of cash saying she was for open borders, and it simply didn’t work.”

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