Via the Free Beacon, watch Rep. Kyrsten Sinema casually reach for an example of illegal immigrants to whom the audience can relate and come up with “housekeepers or working at restaurants.” Didn’t actress Amber Heard get online-mobbed for crimes against wokeness for using that same stereotype a few days ago?
Ah well. That brain burp aside, this is a deft answer by a pol keenly aware that she’s up for election in a purple state that still shades distinctly more red than blue. The line from conservatives over the past few weeks has been that “abolish ICE” is a disastrous talking point for Democrats, one that’ll inevitably be seen by most of the public — correctly — as a call to abolish immigration enforcement altogether. And there’s evidence to support that. “Abolish ICE” does not poll well and it might be driving otherwise complacent Republican voters to take more of an interest in the midterms. It’s also potentially a huge headache for Democratic presidential candidates. When your lefty base is chanting “abolish ICE!” and the centrists are sweating, knowing how that might play in swing states, what do you do?
But there’s a wrinkle that’s not so bad for Dems. “Abolish ICE” is a headache *nationally* but it has its uses in local and statewide races. Depending upon how blue your state or district is, it can be cited as evidence of stalwart support for open borders and/or leftism generally or as a foil with which to prove one’s relative moderation. If you’re Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez running in a deep blue district or some other Democrat running in a state with a large Latino population, “abolish ICE” might be a handy way to gain some traction. If you’re Kyrsten Sinema, it’s something you can denounce as proof that you’re not from the crazy wing of the Democratic Party, giving you a patina of independence. A big culture-war fissure within the party that lets each local candidate define him or herself in relation to it isn’t the worst thing for midterms! But it’s terrible in 2020.
Sinema is a legitimate threat to win the seat, by the way, based on recent state polling. Two separate surveys of Arizona taken late last month had her comfortably ahead of all three potential Republican nominees (Martha McSally, Kelli Ward, and Joe Arpaio). The *tightest* poll had her up seven over McSally, the establishment favorite. The caveat is that Republican voters are divided right now among the three primary candidates whereas Democrats are unified behind Sinema. Once the primaries end, Trump will campaign for the GOP nominee and some (most?) of the two primary losers’ supporters will come around to backing the last Republican standing. The seat’s still winnable, but it’ll be close. And that’s not to say it’ll be won.