Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Biden Issues Executive Order, Fallout Promptly Commences

As expected, Joe Biden issued an executive order yesterday, one that ostensibly seals the border to asylum seekers once a certain number of crossings has taken place. Note that the order only applies to unlawful crossings (i.e., those at non-approved intake points), which means that enforcement of the order would require DHS to do something that it (and its predecessors) have not been able to do in any of the 170 or so years since the Mexican-American War. This may explain why at least some folks who are currently making the trek northward greeted the news with a shrug. "They (the US) have been saying the same thing for a long time, since Trump was there, they are saying that the border is going to be closed," observed one. "They built a fence, they built the wall, but still the amount of people that come from our countries is too large."

The response to the executive order was, on the whole, exactly what you would expect. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) blasted it as "weak," a sentiment echoed by many other Republicans on The Hill. Of course, if the same exact order had come from Trump, they'd be dancing in the streets and celebrating his "strong" leadership. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus slammed the move. And the ACLU won the race to be the first organization to commit to a lawsuit.

Perhaps more instructive, however, was the response out of California. There, sentiments were most definitely split. On one hand, Sen. Alex Padilla (D) and Rep. Nanette Barragán (D) were not happy. On the other hand, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), Rep. Salud Carbajal (D) and San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, among others, lined up behind the President. What the folks in the latter category have in common is that they have a current or future need for moderate votes, including moderate Latino votes.

And that's the bottom line. As we pointed out yesterday, there is no issue doing more for Republican politicians right now than the border. We're not sure if abortion is doing more for the Democrats, or the border is doing more for the Republicans, but it's close. And now, having put the executive order out there, the White House is going to launch a full-on PR blitz. Team Biden knows it cannot completely erase the Republicans' advantage on border "security," but there's hope that they can eat away at the advantage, at least. And note that there is little the Republicans can do in the reverse direction, on abortion.

The timing here could not be more obvious. Border crossings always go up in the summer, and it was better for the administration to get out ahead of that, rather that to appear to be coming from a position of desperation. On top of that, Biden has a debate with Trump scheduled for June 27, which is just over 3 weeks from today. The XO will give Biden some small amount of armor as Trump tries to hit him over the head with immigration immigration immigration.

In the end, this will surely cost Biden some votes on his left flank. But the fact is that if an unenthusiastic progressive abandons Biden, then that person will almost certainly vote for a third-party candidate or else will skip the presidential election entirely. That's a -1 for the President. On the other hand, if a fence-sitting moderate/independent is persuaded to shift from Trump to Biden, that's a +2 for the President. And you can certainly see someone saying, "Well, Trump's a crook, and he's exhausting, and he and Biden aren't that different on the border anymore, and they're both old, so maybe I'll vote Biden."

In short, as long as Biden gains roughly as many centrists as he loses lefty votes, then he's winning big time. And as we wrote in our item yesterday, you can be 100% certain that the Biden campaign has polling numbers backing up this course of action. (Z)

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