I was out sick most of the afternoon yesterday but I gather that Trump has signaled that he is basically adopting the Jeb Bush position on immigration – a position which his most fervent supporters have frequently called “amnesty.” Now, many of Trump’s primary supporters did not support him because of his position on immigration; many of them supported him just because they respond almost entirely to an authoritative tone of voice.
However, some people – many, even – supported Trump because they genuinely want to keep the brown people away, and they are hopping mad.
Ongoing: Team Trump makes a mess of immigration. https://t.co/ynIcVr8uQK
— Byron York (@ByronYork) August 25, 2016
Only part he left out was the “hoops” they’ll have to jump through! Trump:”No citizenship. Let me go a step further—they’ll pay back-taxes” — Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) August 25, 2016
Trump: “they have to pay taxes, there’s no amnesty” [Pro Tip: “Back taxes” means we pay illegals $30k apiece in EITC.}
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) August 25, 2016
It’s not “amnesty.” It’s “comprehensive immigration reform”!!!! Trump: “they have to pay taxes, there’s no amnesty.” — Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) August 25, 2016
Well, if it’s “hard,” then nevermind. Trump: “… to take a person who’s been here for 15 or 20 years ….It’s a very, very hard thing.”
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) August 25, 2016
Now listen, because this is important. Trump is going to lose. He was always going to lose. The signs have been perfectly obvious for a long time now. And even some people who boosted Trump in the primaries have known it for quite some time.
The people who have been boosting Trump from the beginning – and even some who have reluctantly joined the Trump Train after he won the nomination – are going to be casting about for scapegoats very soon. And when the dust settles four or five months from now, there are going to be people – Ann Coulter being chief among them – who are going to have a vested interest in saying that this flip-flop on immigration is what cost Trump the election. They have a vested interest in developing this as the narrative because it helps perpetuate the illusion (in their own minds) that they (illegal immigration opponents) are one of the most important political forces in America, and that politicians cross them at their own peril.
That’s why it’s important to note that on this day, Trump was already losing and headed for certain defeat. Here’s what the last 30 days of polling looked like on the day Trump pulled the pin on his immigration “softening”:
The statewide indicators are, if anything, worse. Trump is losing Virginia and Colorado by double digits, and Trump simply does not have a path to victory without those states. In other words, on the day Trump made his “pivot” on immigration, he was already on the path to a virtually certain total defeat.
Here are the facts that people like Coulter do not like to acknowledge: illegal immigration is not a big deal to most people in this country. Polls consistently show that “illegal immigration” is the main concern of about 6-8% of voters, which puts it barely within the top 10 of issues voters care about; and even among those voters, Hillary wins nearly half – which makes sense. For some portion of the people who view immigration as their most important issue, Trump is (or has been, until yesterday) about the worst candidate imaginable.
Here’s how disconnected from reality the Ingrahams and Coulters are from the actual real world in which people live – as Dan McLaughlin noted here before in an exhaustive post, “amnesty” (as they define it) is a majority position among Republican primary voters. That particular majority, however, tends to be the actual silent majority; the “deport them all and let God sort them out” wing is the loud, obnoxious, more single-minded minority. Trump isn’t going to lose the election because he is taking a position that is opposed by only a minority of voters in his own party and is supported by huge margins among the population at large, and it’s absurd to suggest otherwise.
Bottom line is that a year from now, some yahoo is going to come up to you and suggest that the reason Trump lost the election is because he softened on immigration. Just know that the reason they are telling you this is because they are wanting to sell you more books about how, if everyone only listened to them, Republicans would win elections and everything would be great again. It sounds tempting, but it just isn’t true.