David Brooks: Trump Placing "Native Whites Against Foreigners"; Wall Says "I'm For Us, Against Encroachments of Them"

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(relevant portion begins at 4:55)

On Friday's broadcast of PBS NewsHour conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks said "people who feel economic stress" are more susceptible to Donald Trump's "native whites against foreigners" identity politics. Brooks also said if Hillary Clinton can prove that she is "livable with" for four years then she will "probably rack up a big victory."

HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS: David Brooks, I heard your doubt on the building of the wall and who is going to pay for it. Really, that has become one of those, not just slogans, but he repeats it at every speech, every opportunity he gets, not so much in front of the Mexican president, but certainly when he came back.

And you’re saying, no, we won’t actually build that wall?

DAVID BROOKS, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, you know, this isn’t exactly dog whistle politics. It’s just whistle politics.

If you look at the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, when they ask people, what are your top issues you care about in this country, well, economy comes up very high. National security comes up very high. Even the deficit has come up reasonably high.

Only 6 percent list immigration as one of their top three issues. It’s not a major issue. And the reason it’s worked for Trump is because he’s playing identity politics. He’s playing us vs. them politics, basically native whites against foreigners.

And so the wall is not really a wall. I think most people know he’s not going to actually going to build a wall, and certainly Mexico is not going to pay for it. It’s a way to say, I’m for us, against the encroachments of them.

And in times of economic stress, or among people who feel economic stress, there’s unfortunately a susceptibility of that kind of identity politics.

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DAVID BROOKS: If you look at the ground game, I think it’s the effect, the marginal effect on the race is probably 2 percent, 3 percentage points, which is significant, given there will be 50 states, and a certain number of them in most elections are going to be close. I think TV ads are about the same.

So, we’re shifting sort of on the margin here, at least in a normal race. This race has been far from normal. And I think, basically — I will quote Peter Hart, too — he wrote a memo today, which I think was making the very effective point, is, the majority of people have decided they don’t want to vote for Donald Trump. They just have to know they can live with Hillary Clinton for four years.

And so, if she can prove that she’s livable with, then she’s probably going to probably rack up a big victory. But she hasn’t done that. Her popularity ratings are sinking right now. And I’m not sure they’re sinking because she’s campaigning too little or too ineffectively or because she’s campaigning too much. I sort of suspect the latter, and that she would do better if she was even quieter than she is now.

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