In the last several weeks Donald Trump has been all over the map on immigration. Last night, he gave a pretty tough speech on immigration. It was tough enough that a number of members of his Hispanics For Trump group are walking away from him. But then, this morning, Trump again said he’d soften his policy.
This back and forth is confusing everyone from his supporters to his critics. People are, at this point, trying to express Trump’s intentions based on their own personal preference rather than on what Trump actually wants. It seems most likely that Trump realized he was hurting himself with his base and therefore had to give a very tough sounding speech in Arizona. But is also sounds like Trump does not really intend to deport everyone, realizes it is impractical, and is trying to walk that back without ruffling feathers.
After all, much of Trump’s base wants full, mass deportation. That is what Trump promised. It is what he will not deliver. At this point, however, it does not matter. The race has shifted to be Trump v. Clinton. However bad the base may view any waffling by Trump, they have convinced themselves his policy will be better than Clinton’s.
This will not hurt him.
But, on the other hand, it probably will not help him either. Trump has hovered in the upper thirties to low forties in polling. Clinton has bounced around much more frequently, but those voters who leave her do not seem to go to Trump. Trump has taken a hard line in a speech designed to hold on to his base. In so doing, along with his erratic waffling, it is hard to see how it actually helps him expand his base of voters into a winning coalition.
Just because something might not hurt him, does not mean it helps him. This waffling and clouding of priorities will not help him. And Trump needs help growing his coalition into a winning number.