A GOP congressional aide expressed concerns that an immigration message will likely fall flat or even backfire in the suburbs of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida and California — places where Republicans are on defense as they face independent, fiscally conservative — but not culturally conservative — people.
Republican officials have pushed President Trump to champion an economic message for the sake of races in those states and districts like them.
"If that drowns everything out, and that's all people hear, it becomes a challenge," the aide said of the immigration message.
However, White House officials claim to have data showing Trump’s immigration message has moved key voters.
The congressional aide pushing back: "I've not seen any data that swing voters, independents are won over by immigration message."
Republicans have trailed Democrats in voter enthusiasm for months, and Trump has hoped his focus on immigration will motivate otherwise complacent GOP voters to head to the polls on Tuesday.
But the aide said Trump would benefit swing districts more if he drew a fundamental contrast with Democrats on the economy — particularly by warning that Democrats, if given power, would raise taxes and over-regulate the economy.
“The contrast works well for us in all districts, especially one in districts that are important," the aide said.
One possible reason Trump's focused on the issue: A source close to the White House argued the decision to focus primarily on immigration — at the expense of any other issue — is in part data driven. The data White House officials have been analyzing, according to the source, shows people care less about the economy right now and much more about immigration and health care.
"If he talks about the economy, people are tuning out, because right now, people aren't worried about the economy," the source said. By contrast, the data shows the national mood is more focused on immigration, with headlines about the migrant caravan dominating headlines.
Trump acknowledged the lack of interest in economic talk Friday at his rally in West Virginia. “Sometimes it’s not as exciting to talk about the economy because we have a lot of other things to talk about,” Trump said.
The source said the timing of Trump’s immigration push worked well because, although it's an issue that the President has been touting for several years, "it all matches up now" with immigration being a top concern, even though the caravan of Central American migrants is more than 600 hundred miles from the border.