Scott Jennings, a CNN contributor, is a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and former campaign adviser to Sen. Mitch McConnell. He is a partner at RunSwitch Public Relations in Louisville, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter @ScottJenningsKY. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
(CNN)Many conservatives cheered as President Donald Trump pursued adding a question about American citizenship back into the Census forms that will be delivered nationwide next year. It seems common sense that a nation would want to know how many citizens it has, after all.
Scott JenningsPolling backed up that sentiment. Sixty percent of Americans, including “a majority of voters from all demographics” and a plurality of Democrats (49%), backed the president’s position in a Hill-HarrisX national survey. A second survey — this one by YouGov in conjunction with The Economist — found 53 percent of Americans wanted the question asked versus just 32 percent who didn’t. Democrats raged against the question, claiming it would deter people from filling out the form. What people? Presumably those living in the United States illegally. While Trump’s ultimately backing down on adding the question disappointed many conservatives, the political optics were clear: Trump had yet again baited the Democrats into taking the wrong side of a hot button issue.Trump’s message is that he believes the American president should fight for American citizens, and all Democrats want to do is fight for illegal immigrants. The real problem of Trump's citizenship questionAdd the census question to a long list of examples Trump will use to bludgeon his opponent on immigration in 2020. Each time a Democratic presidential candidate or leading member of Congress calls for decriminalizing illegal border crossings, providing free health care plans for illegal immigrants, removing existing border barriers, or eliminating ICE and DHS — agencies that enforce our immigration laws — they further entrench themselves on the wrong side of a larger political and cultural issue that continues to drive widespread voter intensity.Read MoreApart from immigration-related matters, I continue to scratch my head over Democrats going all-in on other issues wherein public opinion is squarely against them. Take the busing matter, for instance. While Kamala Harris received widespread plaudits for hammering Joe Biden in the first debate, public opinion on federally mandated busing is clear — most people really hated it. I suppose that’s why Harris backtracked on the federal mandates after her debate performance — someone explained to her just how unpopular her position would be in a general election.Stay up to date…
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Joe Biden is doing the same thing on taxes, running around promising to fully repeal the Trump/GOP tax cuts, which by all accounts cut taxes for nearly all Americans who pay federal income tax. The Trump campaign will do the math on this next year and explain to every voter the precise size of the increase they can expect in the next Democratic administration, leaving Biden to explain that he needs more revenue to pay for free college, free illegal immigrant health care, free abortions, etc. Even free college and college debt retirement was viewed with skepticism by voters in the most recent Quinnipiac national poll. Typically, in political campaigns, you try to take more positions that the public prefers than not. But in this Democratic primary for president the candidates seem to be doing the opposite. It reminds me of this campy karate spoof movie I saw in which one of the characters had been “purposely trained wrong as a joke.” After losing a fight, the character, Wimp Lo, defiantly exclaimed “I am bleeding, making me the victor!”It seems to me that the extreme left flank of the Democratic party is purposely training their candidates wrong. But it is no joke — staying on this path could cost them another presidential election.