Shumaker: Immigration a Key GOP Issue, Now and Into the Future

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(Editor’s Note: The following opinion column does not represent an endorsement of any political party or candidate on the part of Newsmax.) 

For decades, politicians and their consultants have lived by the adage, “It’s the economy, stupid!” In many ways, this simple four letter phrase guided political discourse for decades.

In 1992, George H.W. Bush lost because he raised taxes during a recession.

In 2008, Barack Obama won because America’s housing market was collapsing, and major automakers in Detroit were on the brink of bankruptcy.

Even in 2016 and 2020, Americans voted based on their wallets and not much else.

Today, however, I would argue, “It’s the border, stupid!”

Illegal immigration has been a political talking point for decades, predating today’s hyperfixation on the economy — though it was only a main focus in border states.

This cycle, however, is different, and immigration is on the minds of voters from Maine to California.

Republicans are winning the messaging war on the southern border.

Fentanyl deaths, unlawful border crossings, and even detriment to basic infrastructure are wreaking havoc on communities.

In 2016, many people saw President Trump’s immigration policies as absurd.

Today, they are relatively mainstream in both major parties.

This changing tide means politicians and their consultants are having to address an issue that used to be a 10-second mention in their stump speech.

Though the electorate for general elections and primaries differ, the messaging around this issue can, and should, remain consistent.

Instead of altering opinions to become more moderate after the primary, many Republicans are adopting a general election strategy that focuses on tough immigration policies.

This leaves many proposals and ideas out there.

Outside of President Trump’s border wall, there are a wide variety of policy ideas that are not yet mainstream. From ending birthright citizenship and chain migration to a universal remain in Mexico policy, there are multiple policy solutions that have yet to be fully vetted by voters.

What makes this so interesting for candidates and their consultants is that all of these ideas have the same end result: reducing the number of unlawful border crossings. However, each of these policies is unique and has the potential to appeal to a broad group of voters.

Finding consistent messaging is key for either Republicans or Democrats to win on this issue.

Republicans have the advantage because their end goal is uniform. Democrats, however, have yet to find a solution that earns broad support from the fringe of the party to the establishment.

Today’s polls will not be the same polls one week from the election in November.

But for nearly a decade, illegal immigration has been a key platform for the Republican party. And with continuing news coverage of the crisis at our southern border, it looks like this will be the topic of discussion at dinner tables across the country.

Whoever can win the messaging war on immigration will win in November. Right now, that is looking like Republicans.

Caleb Shumaker is president of Mammoth Strategy Group a political consulting firm. 

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