Hoo boy. I figured the polling on Trump’s policy would be bad in Texas, being both a border state with a large Latino minority and a red state where his job approval hasn’t traditionally been sky high.
I didn’t think it’d be this bad.
Note that the Texas Tribune’s poll of the state was conducted from June 8-15. The national media uproar didn’t really get rolling until this week, *after* the poll was finished. If you re-polled today, after days of brutal coverage, the numbers might be worse — considerably worse? — than this. Cruz’s private pollsters must have been setting off air-raid sirens in his office to get him to move so quickly on drafting a bill to end child separation.
Overall, 28 percent of Texas voters support the practice — 16 percent strongly so — while 57 percent oppose it — 44 percent strongly so…
The partisan gap was striking. While 83 percent of Democratic voters oppose separation of parents and children at the border, only 46 percent of independents and 35 percent of Republicans were opposed. A plurality of Republicans — 46 percent — said they support the practice; among independents and Democrats, opponents outnumbered supporters…
While 56 percent of Republican men favor splitting parents and children at illegal entry points on the border and 30 percent oppose it, a plurality of Republican women are against the practice: 37 percent favor it and 42 percent oppose it.
A Republican incumbent running for reelection in Texas has a wide margin for error but not an infinite one. Cruz is up nine points in the RCP average — comfortable, but not let-down-your-guard comfortable, particularly against someone like Beto O’Rourke who’s proved he’s capable of winning congressional elections. The most ominous number isn’t the lopsided Democratic opposition, it’s the fact that the policy didn’t draw even 50 percent of Republicans in favor and was actually upside down among Republican women. Cruz was staring at that baggage, knowing that the media feeding frenzy was likely to mean further deterioration instead of improvement, and concluded he had but one option. Run away. Draft a bill distancing himself from Trump and hope with fingers crossed on both hands that POTUS would cancel the policy ASAP.
Speaking of which, what was it that finally swayed Trump to change his mind? Was it a desperate plea from Cruz and other Senate incumbents, suddenly terrified that the backlash would drown them all in November? Was it the harrowing print reports of screaming toddlers being pried away from mama? Was it the tears of Melania and Ivanka, begging him as mothers themselves not to let this continue? Was it the condemnation from the Pope? Was it the disapproval from — gulp — Bono?
Nah. You know what it was. Per Axios: TV!
TV was the tipping point.
A person who knows Trump’s mind told me: “The President watches more cable news than most Americans. So he experienced an overdose of the outrage and the media frenzy. None of the White House messaging seemed to be helping. So he decided, mostly on his own rather than at the urging of advisers, that some action was required to change the narrative.”
Who can I talk to at Fox and CNN to get them to start running packages about how tariffs are cancerous tumors on the economy? Flood the zone.
In lieu of an exit question, here’s a clip of a surprise visitor to one of the immigration detention centers in Cruz’s backyard. You know the policy’s unpopular when FLOTUS is showing up on site to express her concern about it.
First lady Melania Trump visits a child immigrant detention center in McAllen, Texas: “I’m here to learn about your facility … and I’d also like to ask you how I can help … these children to reunite with their families as quickly as possible” https://t.co/ETzBpFCly3
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 21, 2018