As the country gears up for midterm elections on November 6, Republican candidates have a new strategy for stoking fear in the hearts of voters, according to a report from the liberal Center for American Progress and the centrist think tank Third Way, as reported by The New York Times on Sunday (October 14).
Per the report, which isn’t available online, but was obtained by The Times, many right-wing candidates are accusing Democrats of having an “extreme immigration agenda” that will lead American cities into lawless chaos at the hands of violent immigrants. They are working overtime to warn voters across the country against “sanctuary cities,” jurisdictions that don’t fully cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These areas, they insist, will allow “violent criminals to roam free” and unchecked.
According to The Times, this strategy could “easily turn crucial voting blocs against Democrats.” The four-page report, which is based on interviews and surveys conducted over the summer, points out that “sanctuary attacks pack a punch,” and could generate enough fear to benefit Republicans as they fight to maintain control of Congress.
The political strategists who wrote the report urge Dems to talk less about immigration and instead focus on other issues that also resonate with residents of traditionally red states, like healthcare and taxes: “It is very difficult to win on immigration with vulnerable voters in the states Trump carried in 2016.”
Changing the topic, however, won’t stop the right from using racist rhetoric to dredge up votes. Matt Gorman, communications director of the National Republican Congressional Committee told The Times that sanctuary cities and calls to abolish ICE, “were among voters’ top concerns in some places where Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and where Republicans are now battling to hang on to competitive seats.”
In a political climate that increasingly relies on fear and eschews facts, Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group, urges Democrats to focus on the needs of the voters. “Democrats have figured out that talking like Republicans doesn’t get you many Republicans, and demoralizes your base, and that instead, you can decry the racism in these attacks, and pivot to the kitchen table issues that most voters care about without throwing immigrants under the bus,” he said.