Democrats got baited into this fight, and now they get to pay the price for it. After initially castigating Donald Trump for allegedly calling immigrants “animals” based on faulty news reporting, their leadership failed to pull back after it became clear that Trump was referring to MS-13 gang members, whose violence has spread into the US from its beginnings in El Salvador. Nancy Pelosi infamously rebuked Trump for failing to see the “spark of divinity” within gangs that decapitate and dismember their victims, and worse.
The RNC has a new video out on social media this afternoon reminding people about the sparks emanating from MS-13, featuring Pelosi’s deeeeeep thoughts on the subject:
The ad follows a poll we covered last week that shows a majority of Americans perfectly comfortable with describing murderers, rapists, and torturers as “animals,” even when the intent is to “dehumanize” them. At the time, the poll data had not been published, but Harvard-Harris Poll has the data on line now, and the demographics highlight how fraught this might be for Democrats.
Overall, Americans split 56/44 in support of using an “animals” metaphor. The question splits young voters (under 35) down the middle, but all other age demos have solid majorities finding “animals” a fair description of MS-13. It’s not popular among Hispanic voters, but only narrowly at 47/53, surprisingly. There’s almost no difference between urban, suburban, and rural voters on this question, all of which back it with majorities. Independents find it fair on a 55/45 basis, while only 25% of Republicans consider it unfair.
In other words, getting into semantic games over the use of a metaphor doesn’t look like a winner for Pelosi & Co, which is why the RNC rushed out its first attack ad on the subject. It won’t be the last, since Pelosi’s argument only wins significantly among African-Americans (35/65) and Democrats, but only 41/59. Pelosi’s argument isn’t even a slam dunk inside the fold, let alone outside of it.
In other words, expect the RNC to hammer on this theme for the next few months. Thanks to the large financial advantage they’ve created over an incompetent DNC fundraising apparatus, it’s likely to be pretty effective.