If you care to know where the thinkers in the Republican Party are headed and where they are positioning themselves on the issues of the day–and we should care–then I suggest reading the editorials in the Wall Street Journal. There are too many tin-foil hat types on Facebook or commenting on web sites which all sound screechy and offer nothing of substance. But if you feel as I do that it takes two vibrant parties who often chafe against each other but in the end forge the best with compromise legislation–then we need to care and read what is being said from ‘the opposition’.
More likely, Mr. Trump’s pollsters have informed him that his core demographic coalition is too narrow to win a general election. He needs to expand his appeal among college-educated whites, moderate suburbanites and minorities, and these groups tend to be turned off by the idea of tens of thousands of federal agents breaking up families and raiding businesses in search of people without papers.
Mr. Trump outflanked his GOP rivals on immigration with his willingness to say anything, and he proved that a restrictionist candidate could win the nomination. But his extreme position isn’t winning among the general public. A new Pew survey asked if voters prioritized better border security or a path to citizenship, or whether both approaches should be given equal priority. Some 45% said equal priority—in other words, the Bush-Rubio line and now maybe the Trump line. Legalization received 29% and border security 24%.
Forty-five percent of Republicans said equal priority, 12% legalization, and 41% border security first. Hostility to immigration isn’t all that popular even inside the GOP.
All of this must be disconcerting to the conservatives who want to make deportation a GOP litmus test. They define “amnesty” as any reform that lets any undocumented worker stay in the U.S., and now even their adopted political hero may be abandoning them. At some point he may even endorse something that looks a lot like, well, amnesty.