Donald Trump Is Testing White Nationalists’ Dream Electoral Strategy

While Donald Trump has promised that he will “win Hispanics” and “win the African-American vote” in November, a recent Huffington Post interview with Trump’s campaign chairman tells a different story.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist, told the Huffington Post yesterday that while the campaign intends to reach out to Latino voters in swing states like Pennsylvania and Florida, its goal is to “get into the high 20s in those states with Hispanics,” which is about how Mitt Romney fared among that population nationally in 2012, a dismal showing that helped to sink his presidential bid.

Trump’s strategy, as summarized by the Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman, is to “win with white men and women, plus just enough of everyone else.”

This, incidentally, is exactly what white nationalists have been urging the Republican Party to do for years.

While the Republican National Committee reacted to Romney’s loss by appealing to the party to find ways to attract more people of color — including considering immigration reform — it quickly became clear that GOP elected officials were not behind the project. In September 2013, the white nationalist website VDARE posted an article rejoicing in the Republican Party’s apparent embrace of a whites-only electoral strategy, but complaining that VDARE author Steve Sailer wasn’t getting credit for it.

After the 2000 election, Sailer crunched vote totals from around the country and concluded that moving forward, “the GOP could win more elections by raising its fraction of the white vote minimally than by somehow grabbing vastly higher fractions of the minority vote.”

We wrote in 2013:

…In his [2000] column, titled “ GOP Future Depends on Winning Larger Share of the White Vote ,” Sailer crunched exit poll numbers and outlined a strategy by which the Republican Party could lose “every single nonwhite vote” and still win the presidency by working to increase its share of working class white voters. Sailer and VDARE continued to promote this strategy for over a decade, arguing that Republican attempts to reach out to people of color were not only bad politics, but also a losing strategy.

In the wake of President Obama’s reelection  which relied in a large part on the GOP’s alienation of black and Latino voters – the “Sailer Strategy” has seen a popular resurgence among the Right. While some GOP leaders, like RNC chairman Reince Priebus, have trumpeted the need for the party to expand its base in the face of changing demographics, others  including Phyllis Schlafly, Pat Buchanan, leaders in the anti-immigrant movement, and the editors of The National Review and The Weekly Standard  have argued that the GOP can instead build a lasting strategy by increasing its share of the white vote. These leaders argue that any effort to build a more inclusive Republican Party – and especially any effort to update the country’s immigration policy  would in the long term be futile because, as Schlafly indelicately put it, Latino voters don’t “have any Republican inclinations at all.”

The mostly implicit, but sometimes explicit, subtext in the push for this strategy is that it would be partly achieved by stirring up racial resentments among white voters against the country’s growing Latino population. Buchanan put it most clearly when he called for a renewal of the Southern Strategy – which fundamentally realigned the Republican Party by digging up and egging on Southern white racism against African Americans – only this time with Latinos as the target. (Not coincidentally, Buchanan and Schlafly have both cited Sailer’s writings on race in their own work.)

Ann Coulter, who enjoys a cozy relationship with Trump, is also an enthusiastic proponent of the Sailer Strategy, for which she gives him credit.

Trump may not explicitly embrace the Sailer Strategy, but his campaign seems to have embraced its premise: giving up for lost the votes of people of color while trying to effect a marginal increase in the white vote in part by demonizing and scapegoating non-white people.

It’s something that many strategists say won’t work — but, in Trump, white nationalists might finally have a test of their strategy on a presidential level.

Update: Buzzfeed’s Rosie Gray reports that VDARE founder Peter Brimelow told last weekend’s white nationalist American Renaissance conference that Trump has proved that “immigration and economic nationalism and the whole concept of ‘America first’ works electorally”:

This year, white nationalists can barely contain their excitement over the presumptive Republican nominee, and the AmRen conference reflected the moment. “Even if Trump loses, he’s already shown that immigration and economic nationalism and the whole concept of ‘America first’ works electorally,” Peter Brimelow, the founder of, said in his speech to the conference. “There are some elections where losing candidates blaze a trail for the future.” Brimelow asked how many in the audience had been to a Trump rally; about a quarter raised their hands, mostly young people.