Jul 17, 2019

Trump's premeditated racism is central to his 2020 strategy

During a Cabinet meeting yesterday, President Trump holds up tweets about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo watches. Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters

It might seem like improvisational madness when President Trump tells American citizens in Congress to "go back" where they came from, but those close to Trump say there's a lot of calculation behind his race-baiting.

Why it matters: It’s central to his 2020 strategy, they say. Trump's associates predict more, not less, of the race-baiting madness.

The rough calculation goes like this: 

  1. Trump knows that in 2016, he won the white vote by 20+ points. 
  2. He hopes he can crank their turnout even higher, especially among older, white evangelicals. He knows most of those voters are unlikely to ditch him, no matter how offensive his comments.
  3. He watches Fox News and knows AOC, in particular, is catnip to old, white voters, especially men. She is young, Hispanic, female and a democratic socialist — a 4-for-4 grievance magnet. Last week, AOC got nearly as much online attention as all 2020 Democrats combined.
  4. Trump believes he did better than Mitt Romney among Hispanic voters because many who came here and went through the legal process agree with his views. 
  5. Axios sat in on a focus group in Michigan where white swing voters agreed with Trump on immigration. Carlos Algara, a political scientist at UC Davis, told the N.Y. Times that a forthcoming analysis of the 2018 midterms found that even without Trump on the ballot, "white Democrats with high levels of racial resentment were likely to vote ... Republican."
  6. Facebook is often his incubator. He has spent three times more than all Democratic contenders combined on Facebook, with a mix of message-testing immigration lines to appealing to Hispanics who seem susceptible to his worldview. 
  7. So Trump calculates that (white voters + some Hispanic voters) * (tough immigration rhetoric + race-baiting language) = narrow 2020 win. 

The bottom line: Trump sees the four progressive women in The Squad as perfect foils until he gets a Democratic nominee to run against.

  • N.Y. Times: "He has told aides ... that he is pleased with the Democratic reaction to his attacks, boasting that he is 'marrying' ... Pelosi and the Democratic Party to the four congresswomen known as 'the Squad.'"
  • Then, he will try to do the same to the nominee.

Go deeper: Axios' Jim VandeHei and Dan Primack discussed the president's rationale in the Pro Rata Podcast ...

Go deeper

AOC: Trump's immigration policies are really about ethnicity and racism

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said at a New York City town hall Saturday that President Trump's "go back" tweets targeting her and 3 other Democratic congresswomen of color show his hardline immigration policies are really about racism.

Once you start telling American citizens to quote 'go back to your own countries,' this tells you that this president's policies are not about immigration, it's about ethnicity and racism."

Why it matters: Trump's associates told Axios' Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen that race-baiting is central to his 2020 strategy. Per Axios' Sara Fischer, much of Trump's Facebook spending is focused heavily on immigration messaging, as he targets older, white voters and Latino voters.

The big picture: During her town hall, broadcast on The National Desk's Facebook page, Ocasio-Cortez rejected Trump's claim that he tried to quiet a "send her back" chant directed at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) during a North Carolina campaign rally on Wednesday.

"Roll back the tape. ... He relished it. He took it in and he's doing this intentionally."

Go deeper: A tough time to be a Trump supporter

Keep ReadingArrowJul 21, 2019

Where Trump's Facebook spending goes

Data: Bully Pulpit Interactive; Table: Harry Stevens/Axios

When it comes to political ads on Facebook, President Trump is still outspending all of his Democratic rivals by millions of dollars. But he's avoiding many of the issues that they're focused on to instead spend heavily on immigration messaging.

Why it matters: Trump knows that in order to win again in 2020, he needs to target two populations: older, white voters and Hispanic voters and the way he targets Facebook advertising by topic reflects that approach.

Go deeperArrowJul 19, 2019

The GOP's demographic decay

Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The single biggest threat to Republicans' long-term viability is demographics.

The big picture: The numbers simply do not lie. America, as a whole, and swing states, in particular, are growing more diverse, more quickly. There is no way Republicans can change birth rates or curb this trend — and there's not a single demographic megatrend that favors Republicans.

Go deeperArrowJul 18, 2019