How Repub­li­cans are us­ing im­mi­gra­tion to scare vot­ers to the polls

Stabroek News Sunday - - CLASSIFIEDS/NEWS -

IN­DI­ANAPO­LIS, In­di­ana, (Reuters) - The com­mer­cial opens with an appeal to fear: a hoodie-wear­ing man prowl­ing an al­ley, knife in hand. His face re­mains hid­den but the ad makes it clear: He’s an il­le­gal im­mi­grant.

“We need tough im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment to keep dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals out,” says the ad by a na­tional con­ser­va­tive po­lit­i­cal group, part of an ef­fort to help a Repub­li­can chal­lenger, Mike Braun, oust a Demo­cratic in­cum­bent in In­di­ana and cap­ture a U.S. Se­nate seat in Novem­ber’s con­gres­sional elec­tions.

As they try to hang on to con­trol of Congress, Repub­li­can candidates are fol­low­ing the lead of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and turn­ing to rhetoric about im­mi­grants as a tac­tic to mo­ti­vate vot­ers. The scope of that strat­egy emerges in a na­tion­wide Reuters ex­am­i­na­tion of ad buys, candidates’ so­cial me­dia posts and polling, as well as dozens of in­ter­views with candidates, vot­ers and cam­paign strate­gists.

The trend is espe­cially vis­i­ble on Twit­ter. Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans seek­ing re-elec­tion have dra­mat­i­cally in­creased the num­ber of tweets they post about im­mi­gra­tion since Trump’s elec­tion, a Reuters/Ip­sos anal­y­sis of so­cial me­dia shows. (https://tm­snrt.rs/ 2EIPef5)Im­mi­gra­tion mes­sag­ing has surged across the spec­trum of Repub­li­can-held dis­tricts – highly com­pet­i­tive swing seats and re­li­ably Repub­li­can ones, in places with im­mi­grant pop­u­la­tions both large and small.

The shift also shows up in the cam­paign ad wars. In races from Florida to Cal­i­for­nia, in bor­der states and ones with few im­mi­grants, Repub­li­cans have poured mil­lions of dol­lars into ad­ver­tis­ing that de­pict il­le­gal im­mi­grants as crim­i­nals and vowed en­thu­si­as­tic sup­port for Trump’s pro­posed wall at the Mex­i­can bor­der, the Reuters re­view shows.

This year, 20 per­cent of pro-Repub­li­can ads in con­gres­sional races have cited im­mi­gra­tion, ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis of broad­cast ad­ver­tis­ing data through Oct. 15. That’s up from 8 per­cent in the same pe­riod of the 2014 con­gres­sional elec­tions and 5 per­cent in the 2010 races. The anal­y­sis was con­ducted for Reuters by Kan­tar Me­dia/CMAG, which tracks po­lit­i­cal ads.

Spend­ing on Repub­li­can ads that men­tion im­mi­gra­tion has more than dou­bled to $62.4 mil­lion this year from the 2014 elec­tions and has quadru­pled since the 2010 races, the Kan­tar Me­dia/CMAG data shows. (https://tm­snrt.rs/2EEKveE) Im­mi­gra­tion ad spend­ing has also surged in state-level races. (Kan­tar Me­dia/CMAG es­ti­mated ear­lier this month that to­tal po­lit­i­cal ad spend­ing for broad­cast tele­vi­sion would rise to $2.7 bil­lion this year from $2.1 bil­lion in 2014.)

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