As Greg Sargent points out, the latest CNN poll finds Republicans overwhelmingly want to deport some 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US by a nearly 2-1 margin.
By 56-42, Americans support developing a plan to legalize undocumented immigrants over stopping their flow and deporting those already here. Independents agree by 58-39, and moderates by 59-40.
But Republicans favor stopping the flow of undocumenteds and deporting those already here by 63-34. So do conservatives, by 55-43. “Those already here,” of course, amount to some 11 million people.
Now, it’s certainly possible that GOP support for deportation is inflated somewhat by the inclusion of securing the border on that side of the question. But even when the question is framed a bit less starkly, as a recent Post/ABC News poll did, a majority of Republicans does not think the undocumented should be allowed to live and work here even if they pay a fine and meet other requirements. This should not obscure the fact that a substantial number of Republicans are, in fact, open to legalization; it’s just that more of them apparently aren’t.
And as such, what the CNN numbers again confirm is that there is a deep and intractable divide between the two parties on what to do about the undocumented population. This fundamental underlying difference matters far more than Donald Trump’s vicious rhetoric, which (assuming he doesn’t run as a third party candidate) will likely prove ephemeral.
Indeed, the CNN poll hints at the demographic challenge the GOP will face after Trump fades and the only person still listening to his bluster is his reflection in the mirror. As Brian Beutler recently observed, the GOP effort to grapple with the Trump phenomenon without alienating his supporters throws into stark relief the basic divide among the GOP presidential candidates over how to get to the White House. Some (Jeb Bush) are arguing for a genuine effort to broaden the party’s appeal outside its core constituencies, while others (Scott Walker) are seemingly betting it all on an ability to energize still more Republican-friendly white voters. As Beutler argues, the rise of Trump illustrates in particularly harsh terms that Republicans may have to choose one or the other.
I’m pretty sure Trump’s rise shows that the Republicans can very much win as the party of deportation, demonization, and derangement. The anger stoked by decades of Republican “us vs them” rhetoric hasn’t just magically vanished now that Obama isn’t running, folks.
The appeal to “energize still more Republican-friendly white voters” is absolutely the ticket for these guys. “Those People(tm) are taking your jobs, your health care, your culture, your country, your taxpayer dollars, when will we get rid of them?” has been pretty effective throughout American history, guys.
There’s every reason to believe that this is where the GOP is now and will be for the rest of my lifetime, at least.