Since last fall, Donald Trump has had the highest unfavorable ratings of any politician in modern history (perhaps more important: the highest “very unfavorable” ratings). A majority of voters have said they would never consider voting for him.
On Friday morning October 7th, Donald Trump was a massive underdog in the presidential race, on track to lose the election by a substantial margin. His deficit in the polls is a direct consequence to a number of anti-immigrant policies that voters have rejected, including mass deportation plans that began on day one of his campaign. His anti-immigration policies have the support of fewer than 1 in 5 voters.
Polls throughout the campaign have shown Trump’s attacks on immigrants and opposition to legalization for the undocumented as coming with significant political costs. Poll tracking shows that the three worst political moments for Trump — until last week’s tape — were when anti-immigrant policies intersected with personal attacks: Judge Curiel (first two weeks of June), attacks on the Khan family (post convention) and Alicia Machado (post debate).
How bad were Trump’s prospects a few days ago? It was less than two weeks ago that the New York Times reported: “Donald J. Trump’s support has plunged across the swing-state map over the last 10 days, wiping out his political recovery from September and threatening to undo weeks of Republican gains in the battle for control of Congress.” This morning, the Marist/NBC News poll showed Clinton up a massive 12 points in the 4- way race in Pennsylvania, a must win for Trump.
Donald Trump was already on a pathway to a large loss in the presidential race, in large part because his anti-immigrant positions that horribly offended nearly two-thirds of American voters. Until the Republican party fixes its message, simply replacing the messenger will ensure the party’s favorability only continues to become worse. While those tapes may have brought to light character issues, the impact does not last beyond Trump’s candidacy. However, immigration reform, which has regularly been at the forefront of the 2016 debate will impact 2018 and 2020 elections if unresolved.
What the polls say
We looked at the impact of Trump’s awful and absurd immigration policies in this election, and compared those to past Republican nominee performance. Here’s what we learned:
1. Among Latino voters, Donald Trump is the least popular presidential candidate in history.
Latino Decisions model showed Trump on track to win only 15 percent of the Latino vote, almost half of Romney’s 27 percent in 2012. Compared to President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign, that’s an astronomical 65 percent reduction in 12 years from President Bush’s 44 percent. Since the 2004 election, the Latino vote share grew from 6 percent of the electorate to an estimated 10 percent of the electorate this cycle — an 80 percent increase.
2. Among Asian-American voters, Donald Trump is the least popular presidential candidate in history.
The National Asian American Survey released a poll showing that Clinton leads Trump 70 percent to 21 percent. To put that into context, in 1992 President George H.W. Bush bested Bill Clinton, winning 55 percent to 31 percent. Asian-Americans are the fastest growing demographic by percentage in the country, having increased from 2 percent of the electorate in 1992 to nearly 6 percent (projected) in 2016.
3. Hillary Clinton is poised to potentially earn a larger share of the African-American vote than President Obama.
Whether Trump wins 4 percent or 8 percent of black voters, Republicans expected to do better in 2016 than 2008 or 2012 until the GOP nominee began attacking African-American communities, portraying them as hellholes and alluding to the Central Park 5’s guilt, even after they were exonerated.
4. Young and college-educated white female voters are fleeing Trump’s anti-immigration campaign.
Losing this reliable vote bloc moves states like Virginia and Colorado deeper into the blue column and turns the Philadelphia suburbs into a Clinton vote bonanza. North Carolina, Georgia and Arizona are swing states and trending blue. It turns out, not only do white voters and Republicans overwhelmingly support immigration reform, but Trump’s anti-immigration proposals have caused him real problems with consolidating GOP support.
Whether driven by an urgent need to fix America’s broken immigration system or establish a political beachhead that will allow Republicans to begin turning the tide, immigration reform is expected to be front and center when the 115th Congress convenes in January 2017.
In summary: Donald Trump’s campaign, built on anti-immigrant policies, was heading toward defeat long before the tape surfaced.
The candidate’s anti-immigrant policies were unpalatable to the vast majority of many key demographic groups. Because of the prominence of immigration reform in the 2016 campaign, Party leaders are likely forced to take affirmative action to pass commonsense immigration reform in order to ward off ward off massive political challenges.