THE MORNING PLUM:
A new poll released today by the Arizona Republic shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by four points — in Arizona. The Clinton campaign is now investing real money in the state, and this is widely being touted as a sign that the map is expanding in ways that portend a sizable victory for her.
But a Clinton win in Arizona would also have important value in its own right: It would represent a significant victory over Trumpism writ large, with potentially far reaching ramifications for the future of Trumpism in America.
Trump, you may recall, chose Arizona as the site for his big immigration speech, which represented — along with his convention speech — one of the most comprehensive statements explaining Trumpism in all its xenophobic, hate-drenched glory. That speech employed a variety of distortions and lies to portray a country under siege by dark hordes flooding across the border, and proposed a dramatic expansion of deportations. Arizona is also home to notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio — a high-profile Trump supporter who is up for reelection and is a national symbol of a hard line immigration response.
More broadly, Arizona in many ways represents a laboratory of how immigration politics and demographic change are slowly altering the national electoral map. This border state passed the draconian SB-1070 anti-illegal-immigration statute in 2010, once again showcasing the power of white backlash. But at the same time, the state also continues to diversify, making it a dream long-term flip for Democrats.
This is why people on both left and right who want a saner approach to immigration relish a Trump defeat there. It would show in particularly vivid terms that restrictionism born amid white backlash is doomed to long-term political failure and thus that the GOP must cut it loose — just as California’s notorious mid-1990s Proposition 187 may have helped ultimately put the state GOP there on a path into the demographic wilderness.
“Arizona has always been one of those states that is a bridge too far,” Frank Sharry of America’s Voice tells me. “Latinos haven’t turned out in sufficient numbers to overcome the structural advantage that the GOP has with the aging white vote. But this year, the Latino community may be hyper-mobilized by the chance to take out Arpaio and by the candidacy of Trump.”
Sharry noted that demographic change — with an assist from Trumpism — has already nudged Colorado and Virginia, where Clinton leads comfortably, into the bluish column. “The next two targets have always been Arizona and Georgia, because of the demographics,” Sharry said. “A Trump loss in Arizona would show that Trumpism is dramatically accelerating the shift of red states to purple states.”
Alex Nowrasteh, an analyst with the Cato Institute, advocates for reform from a libertarian perspective, but he agrees with Sharry. Nowrasteh noted that hard-liners would see Clinton’s strength in Arizona as a sign that more immigration restrictions are needed — to keep Dem-supporting Latinos out. But the right lesson for Republicans to draw, he said, is that the GOP must make peace with immigration reform.
“A Clinton victory in Arizona could confirm the biggest fear of Republicans — that immigration will turn red states blue,” Nowrasteh told me. “But opposition to immigration reform and support for laws like Prop 187 and SB 1070 create a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Nowrasteh argued that such measures, by stoking xenophobia, prevent the GOP from moderating to keep pace with inevitable demographic change, hurting the party over the long term: “The reality is that nativism turns these states blue.”
If Trump loses, there is likely to be a struggle among Republicans over Trumpism’s legacy. Hillary Clinton and top Dems have signaled that they will move quickly to push for immigration reform if she wins. Surely some Republicans will argue that embracing reform is a good way to quickly expunge the stench of Trumpism from their party. It’s unclear whether that will carry the day, but those pushing for it might seize on a Trump loss in Arizona to bolster their case.
To be clear, Clinton very well may still lose Arizona. But even a strong Clinton showing there would send a signal about where things are headed. And there are other ways to deliver a decisive victory over Trumpism. For instance, if this election produces very high turnout, that would represent a strong rebuke to Trump’s ongoing efforts to employ “rigged election” claims to suppress turnout and undermine faith in our democracy. Which brings us to our next item.
* TRUMP’S VOTER INTIMIDATION SCHEME MAY FIZZLE: Trip Gabriel reports that Trump’s call on his supporters to monitor polling places is stirring fears of voter intimidation. However:
But as Mr. Trump casts doubt on the integrity of the presidential election, there are no signs of a wave of Trump poll watchers building. Like much else about his campaign, his call to “get everybody to go out and watch” the polls seems to be a Potemkin effort, with little or no organization behind it.
As I’ve noted, the whole point of Trump’s “rigged election” line is to create disruptions on Election Day, to depress turnout and undermine faith in our democracy. But large voter turnout would repudiate that nicely.
* CLINTON LAUNCHES CLOSING ARGUMENT AD: The Clinton campaign is up with a new TV ad in seven battleground states that has the feel of a closing argument. It stays positive, and it doesn’t mention Trump, only featuring Clinton saying, “this is not an ordinary time and this is not an ordinary election,” before reiterating her message that she would “heal our country and bring it together.”
The closing argument will basically be that this election is a referendum on American pluralism, tolerance, and democracy, and that Trump represents a unique threat to all of it.
* CLINTON LEADS BIG IN ANOTHER NATIONAL POLL: A new Bloomberg Politics poll finds Clinton leading Trump among likely voters nationally by 47-38 in the four-way, and by 50-41 in the head-to-head matchup. Note:
After trailing among men throughout the summer, Clinton is now winning 46 percent of their support in a hypothetical two-way race, compared to 44 percent for Trump. She’s ahead among women by 17 points and has a 1-point edge among white women, 46 percent to 45 percent….Among whites with college degrees — a longtime Republican stronghold — she expanded her lead to 13 points.
One big question will be whether a sizable victory for Dems among college educated whites has long term ramifications.
* MAJORITY ‘CONCERNED’ ABOUT SEX TAPE, GROPING: Another key nugget from the new Bloomberg Politics poll: Likely voters say by 56-40 that Trump has not put the sex tape and charges of unwanted advances to rest, and that these things will be a concern to them as they vote. This will also certainly help drive a yuuuuge gender gap.
* TRUMP’S LATEST PUSHBACK ON GROPING CHARGES: Katie Zezima reports that sexual assault is now central in the presidential campaign. Trump has said he’d never make advances on such unattractive women, and here’s how his general counsel is now spinning this:
“I think what Mr. Trump is really trying to say is that they’re not somebody that he would be attracted to and therefore the whole thing is nonsense.”
Wow, that makes it a whole lot better! Imagine defending this guy?
* AND THE BOGUS TRUMP-FAIL EXCUSE OF THE DAY: Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, asked on CNN about his sliding poll numbers, offered up this:
“She has so many advantages. She has endless money, she has a lot of the media….I’m mystified as to why she can’t get to those 52, 53 percent numbers in some of these states, given the disadvantages we’re handed every day.”
Mark our words, “why didn’t she win by more???” will be the way Republicans downplay the significance of a Clinton victory, no matter how large it is.