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When Us versus Them isn't enough: Race-baiting flops as campaign tactic

Adam Serwer is a staff writer with The American Prospect, where he writes his own blog.

Among the silver linings for Democrats -- and society, really -- in the massive victories won by Republicans yesterday is that there is a very clear price to pay for exploiting anti-immigrant sentiment for political purposes. As Elise Foley notes, Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo, California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, and most infamously Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle went down in defeat after running campaigns that promised to crack down on immigration.

Whitman started trailing in the polls after Latino voters began deserting her for Democrat Jerry Brown in the aftermath of a scandal involving Whitman having knowningly hired an illegal immigrant. Whitman had actually been far more active in wooing Latinos than her opponent, but the details of the scandal, and the fact that Whitman had been campaigning on pursuing harsher punishments for employers who knowingly hired unauthorized immigrants, put her in a difficult position.

Tom Tancredo has been an alarmist on immigration for years and actually ran an ad in Colorado attacking Democrat John Hickenlooper by blaming him for the death of a child who was killed by someone who was in the country illegally. Tancredo ran an explicitly anti-immigration campaign and actually had a chance of winning despite dubious arguments assembled by extreme anti-immigrant groups.

Sharron Angle, however, ran an even more reprehensible race-baiting campaign. Her ads frequently portrayed Latinos as dangerous criminals intent on exploiting hardworking whites, and at the ballot box in Nevada yesterday, she paid a price for it among the state's Latino voters. Reid won about 70 percent of the Latino vote, according to CNN's exit polls. Latino voters also made up the same percentage of the Nevada electorate in 2010 as they did in 2008, possibly because of Harry Reid's extensive outreach campaign but likely also because Angle was running a campaign that was outright hostile to Latinos.

Other candidates with hardline views on immigration won their races yesterday -- including David Vitter, who was running in a state with a small Latino population and ran some very ugly racialized ads. But these three contests show that exploiting anti-immigrant sentiment is hardly a silver bullet, and there's a price to be paid for crossing the line.

By Adam Serwer  | November 3, 2010; 11:26 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections, Immigration, Senate Republicans  
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Next: Did Tea Party cost GOP 50-50 Senate?

Comments

For statewide offices this may be true. However, just look at Renee Elmers managed an upset in N.C. and the localized picture is not so rosy. Of course her campaign was more ooogedy-boogedy about "them" Muslims.

Posted by: horace1 | November 3, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for posting this Greg, a very important lesson on the ugly side of the TP. I wonder if the TP dupes think the industries that exploit illegal labor are owned by Democrats.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 3, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I don't think that anyone lost because they promoted racist fear mongering about immigration. Tancredo was a third party candidate that almost won. He's also a total wackjob. Angle is a total wackjob and she also almost won. I think both of these candidates and many others came close because a majority of Americans have come to believe in the motto - "I got mine - eff the rest of you." Can't wait to see how the GOP translates that into a governing philosophy.

Posted by: pragmaticstill | November 3, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Yes.

We live in a multi-racial, multi-religious society. It's been that way since the founding, and it will always be that way despite the radical right's unmistakable, overt racism.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 3, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Greg

Last week you banned someone for opposing these tactics.

The race-baiting includes the False Charges of Racism


The hispanic issues are much more complex. The immigration issue has supporters on both sides within the hispanic community. The Repubicans are going to appeal to the hispanic community, and the Republicans are going to have significant hispanic support.


.

Posted by: SunlightRays | November 3, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

This is beyond idiotic! The whole Republican party is known as the anti-ILLEGAL immigrant party by almost everyone.

The Democrats have driven that point home very, very well in the hopes that they will get all the latino/hispanic/Mexican vote out there.

Just because a few Republicans lost this time around, you guys are clinging to the theory that being anti-ILLEGAL immigrant is oh-so baaaaad.

It's attitudes like this that caused the political tsunami last night.

Just keep it up until 2012, please!

Posted by: battleground51 | November 3, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

hey sbj, what's your take on your party being the driving force behind and taking out the three judges that upheld gay marriage in Iowa?

Is that Obama's fault for not taking a firm position or what?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 3, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Tea Party

Re: Horrace and Mike's points


The Tea Party has positives and negatives. By far, the positives outweigh the negatives.

Yes, candidates - but there are always practical problems in getting the right candidates the nominations in the right places to take advantage of the opportunities.

This year, there were so many opportunities available, the Tea Party and the Republicans could not get enough really good and effective candidates in all the right places.

Obviously we can point to a few States - IF the Tea Party had available, standing there THAT day, with enough money a good candidate, that would have resulted in another win.


Scott Brown emerged out of no-where last January - DO NOT FORGET SCOTT BROWN IS THE FIRST TEA PARTY SENATOR.


113 House members are now Tea Party, Rand Paul, Rubio and a bunch of others represent a significant idealogical strength within the Republican party in Congress.


I think the Republicans in Congress are going to adopt the Tea Party ideas. It's not much of a stretch for them.

Posted by: SunlightRays | November 3, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Adam

This entire issue can not be discussed rationally without also looking at the Obama tactics of False Charges of Racism

Each side has been throwing out their own kind of divisive poltics.

This issue was a major factor last night - and the divisive tactics on BOTH sides were vastly rejected by the American People


Posted by: SunlightRays | November 3, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Actually battle, you've got that backward.

The GOP is pro-illegal immigrants. They want a cheap undocumented workforce they can exploit without having to adhere to labor laws.

What the GOP is against is amnesty. They want to keep those workers illegal without a path to citizenship.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 3, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Everyone is against illegal immigration, but the businesses and industries that exploit illegal labor, lets look at who owns and operates them. No liberals, we know that much, we can be certain liberal Democrats are not systematically profiting by using illegal laborers instead of American citizens. So if we think in terms of supply and demand, who is doing this, who keeps supplying jobs for illegal workers?

Posted by: shrink2 | November 3, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Some people just love bickering too much to even take a break from it, on the day after the elections.

Get a grip people. The world will not fall apart, if you stop arguing politics for a day or two.

Lighten up, and shut the hell up for at least one day.

Congratulations once more to The Republicans on their many victories.

Posted by: Liam-still | November 3, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

The American People rejected something else last time - the making of a political issue out of something while ignoring the real issues out there.


Illegal immigration is a real issue.

The costs which illegal immigrants impose on State and local budgets are a real isse

The idea that if someone is not in favor of "Open Borders" or "Amnesty" that somehow implies that the person is a bigot or against hispanic people is just RIDICULOUS.

and that is just like the Obama tactics of False Charges of Racism.

______________________________


All this comes down to Attempts to Intimidate people into silence on particular issues.

However, the immigration issues are much complex.


In the 1980s, all the illegal immigrants were given a "path to legalization" The country already tried that - and it didn't work BECAUSE it only led to more illegal immigration - it provided an INCENTIVE for more illegal immigration and more calls for Amnesty.


That is precisely the point - charges of bigotry have NO PLACE in the discussions of what is the best immigration policy for the US.

The country can NOT have "Open Borders" - there has to be a limit. The democrats have been running around like that limit does not exist.


Amnesty comes dangerously close to offering sufficient incentives to MORE illegals to come to the US - it is a slipperly slope that simply, practically is NOT a real solution.

Posted by: SunlightRays | November 3, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

OT, sorta, this is hilarious re: the "huge" issue of "voter fraud":

Several Republican and tea-party-affiliated groups across the country took their citizen activism to the polls to stop what they say has been rampant abuse of the electoral system. The Kitchen Cabinet, a group composed of conservative women, sent representatives to all 50 states to monitor voting and set up an Election Day hotline to monitor for fraud. By 6 p.m., there were no major incidents reported, a spokeswoman said.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/02/AR2010110206892.html

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 3, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

As long as we're talking race-baiting, it seems worth noting that the GOP elected African-American Congressmen in Florida and South Carolina, an Indian-American governor in South Carolina (to go with the one in Louisiana), a Latino senator in Florida, and a Latino governor in New Mexico.

Meanwhile, the Democrats tried to push both of their own black Senate candidates (Greene and Meek) out of the running. When will the Democrats confront their race problem?

Posted by: tomtildrum | November 3, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Liam, this is fun for me, I am supposed to take a break from having fun for a day? Do I have to? If you want to then please. I mean, my work is a form of piece work, if I weren't talking politics in between, what should I do watch YouTube, learn Mandarin?

Posted by: shrink2 | November 3, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Ethan, there is always Alaska, there is an army of lawyers up there and well, lawyers gotta get paid.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 3, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

"When will the Democrats confront their race problem?"

Ask the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Deval Patrick, and the President of the United States.

Maybe you'll get an answer. But probably not.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 3, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

One more OT then I'm out:

-Republican win to deal only tweaks to healthcare-

"Regardless of Republican rhetoric ... last night's Congressional results won't yield changes in healthcare reform law," said Leerink Swann analyst John Sullivan.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6A252H20101103

Tee hee.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 3, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

The TEA PARTY is in it's infancy. Just learning to walk the walk and talk the talk. For all that, the TEA PARTY made phenomenal strides. We may well have a prodigy.

Just think how potent the TEA PARTY may be when it grows up.

Give it a few years.

Being anti-ILLEGAL "immigrant" is a winning strategy for the Republican party. The immigration chaos and broken border situation is a major concern for most, real Americans. That is a fact that the Obamacrats must face if they want to avoid another wipeout in 2012.

Posted by: battleground51 | November 3, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately for the democrats

The Real Immigration Issue comes down to this: what will be the job creation of the Economy.

We can not allow 50 Million people into the country if there are only 10 Million jobs.

It is a question of Economic numbers


The democrats are trying to gain partisan political advantage with the immigration issues - the American people know this and are wondering HOW MANY JOBS WILL THE DEMOCRATS GIVE AWAY TO ALLOW ILLEGALS INTO THIS COUNTRY FOR THE SAKE OF VOTES.


That is a real issue.

I think the American People are sick of the democrats and the liberals trying to obscure the real issues,

Sick of trying to intimidate people with False Charges

Sick of the liberals refusing to listen to other people just because they want an echo chamber - a character flaw CLEARLY EVIDENT ON THIS BLOG


.

Posted by: SunlightRays | November 3, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Liam, this is fun for me, I am supposed to take a break from having fun for a day? Do I have to? If you want to then please. I mean, my work is a form of piece work, if I weren't talking politics in between, what should I do watch YouTube, learn Mandarin?

Posted by: shrink2 | November 3, 2010 12:05 PM

.............

Talk to a shrink about your obsession?

Posted by: Liam-still | November 3, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

On the opposite side of the coin in Arizona, Grijalva, the congressman so stupid be called for a boycott of his own state is in a still uncalled race against 28 year old Ruth McClung who ran with no money at all.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 3, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

battle, the tea party is a bunch of republicans organized mainly by republican activists.

What's that saying about lipstick on a pig?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 3, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Battleground

The Republicans are still going to have to come up with a strong hispanic outreach program

The Republicans can't allow the democrats to run through the hispanic community with THEIR race-baiting strategies.


That much is clear - Rubio in Florida is an important first step - So is Sandoval in the Nevada Governor's race.


As much as Adam Serwer might SAY that the Harry Reid situation means something about the democratic hold on hispanic voters -

the REPUBLICANS ELECTED A HISPANIC GOVERNOR IN NEVADA AND NEW MEXICO

Posted by: SunlightRays | November 3, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

shrink:

"Everyone is against illegal immigration, but the businesses and industries that exploit illegal labor, lets look at who owns and operates them. No liberals, we know that much..."

Your jokes are not getting any funnier, shrink.

Posted by: ScottC3 | November 3, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

If you want to make a list of race-baiters who lost last night

Angle

Tancredo

Obama


It is that simple Obama is equally a race-baiter


Whitman got slammed more by Hypocrisy than anything - which by the way Obama is also guilty of.


.

Posted by: SunlightRays | November 3, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Why is Adam Serwer so fanatically pro-outlaw "immigrant"?? He seems to throw out missives for these border bandidos on a regular basis. They are all basically the same.

Good question!

I have no answer to Serwer.

Posted by: battleground51 | November 3, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

tsk tsk Liam, diagnosing people on line is as ubiquitous as it is boring, a variation on Godwin's Law. Besides, so you know, people beset with obsessions are miserable, there is nothing fun about it. If arguing politics isn't fun, then one should stop doing it.

Evidently, this is not fun for some people. If they are doing it because they have to, even though they don't like it, we call that a compulsion.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 3, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

@tomtildrum: "Meanwhile, the Democrats tried to push both of their own black Senate candidates (Greene and Meek) out of the running. When will the Democrats confront their race problem?"

They don't have one. They say all the right things, and, more importantly, believe the right things. Ergo, their behavior is irrelevant. They would never run a commercial like Sharron Angle ran. Ergo, they have no race problem.

And if you look at the election returns, it's pretty clear that the Democrats don't actually have a race problem, at least in regards to earning the votes of various minority groups. The identity politics advantage is heavily for the Democrats.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 3, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

SC3, thank you, I'm glad someone appreciated that.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 3, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

"Race-baiting flops as campaign tactic"

Quite correct. Obama telling Hispanics to punish American citizens just doesn't cut it.

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 3, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

If one takes out the gerrymandered black districts, how integrated is the democratic candidates????

How much diversity is coming out of the majority-white democratic districts???

Is there ONE majority white democratic district which has elected a black person???


ON this important measure, I have a sense that Republicans are far ahead of the democratics


In South Carolina and Florida, Republicans elected black Congressmen out of majority-white districts.

Rubio, Sandoval and a slew of other Republican hispanic candidates are all over the place - ALL who appeal accross ethnic lines.


That is the true measure of diversity - whether the candidates are truly post-racial and whether they have genuine appeal across ethnic lines.


.

Posted by: SunlightRays | November 3, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Here you go, as promised: How the Tea Party cost the GOP the Senate:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/11/did_tea_party_cost_gop_50-50_s.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 3, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

SunLightRays

Exactly! Republicans are allowing the best hispanic candidates to come forward, on their own gas, and run for office.

Democrats are stuck in the "affirmative action" mode. They keep them gerrymandered and in their place at all times.

Very undemocratic of them, I must say.

Posted by: battleground51 | November 3, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

shrink:

"I'm glad someone appreciated that."

To be fair, parody generally relies on exaggeration, and it is tough to exaggerate the whackiness of liberal thought here on this board. So I suppose it is understandable that a lot of people don't get your jokes.

Posted by: ScottC3 | November 3, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Nice Greg, but when will you address all the things you were wrong about, like the importance of helath care legislation and donor transparency?

I guess writing your own column means never having to admit how wrong you were?

Posted by: 54465446 | November 3, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Give me a break!

Illegal immigration is what made marginal candidates like Tancredo, Angle, JD Hayworth competitive. Whitman only went anti-illegal in the primaries after Poizner made huge gains raising the issue, then she backtracked in the general election.

Don't forget that Tancredo was running as a third party candidate. Or the advantage of Harry Reid's incumbency & seniority, that had even many Republicans supporting him.

Illegal immigration is a HUGE issue that brought large and immediate benefits to anyone who championed it. But illegal immigration could not always trump bigger issues like economy and the advantages of incumbency.

Posted by: pmendez | November 3, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Lighten up, and shut the hell up for at least one day.

Congratulations once more to The Republicans on their many victories.

Posted by: Liam-still
______________________________

I was going to jump into the conversation, but then I read your post.

Well said. I think I'll go watch a movie tonight.

Posted by: Bailers | November 3, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

The author is a liberal idiot. Race baiting works perfectly if it is PRO-Mexican.

Hispanic voters turned out for this race in greater percentages than in the 2008 presidential election. Just last week, Harry Reid pledged to bring back the Dream Act for a vote during the lame duck session regardless of the election outcome. After tonight's win, a commentator for Spanish language television remarked "Harry Reid had better learn how to say muchos gracias." Reid won reelection by roughly 40,000 votes, which included 60 percent of the Hispanic vote, and Nevada's Hispanic population stands at 700,000 as of 2009. There is no question that Hispanics were the swing vote that gave Reid his victory on the promise of amnesty before January.

The pro-illegal media will not be reporting what has happened here. In states with heavy Hispanic populations, pro-enforcement candidates have been defeated by amnesty mongering liberals and the Mexican swing vote. In Arizona, governor Jan Brewer survived because Arizona has had a proof of citizenship for voter registration since 2004, which the 9th Circuit Court just derailed last week. In southern Arizona Raul Grijalva will likely be reelected to congress after calling for a boycott of Arizona because his district is majority Hispanic.

Wake up people. Wake the hell up.

Posted by: ZOO1 | November 3, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

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