From the very start of his presidential campaign, Trump has shaped his message around who is to blame for America’s problems — often pointing the finger at illegal immigrants, Black Lives Matter activists and other minorities in a pitch that was aimed primarily at white Republicans.
But now, as Trump seeks to reach out to women and minorities who favor Democrat Hillary Clinton, the GOP nominee has increasingly taken to pitting one group against the other in a bid for support. It’s not clear how well it will work: Many minority voters, already turned off by months of blunt and polarizing statements, still hear the language of separation in Trump’s words.

What Trump and many on the far right fail to understand is that Trump’s bigoted rhetoric, lack of familiarity with minority communities and demonization of immigrants have negative consequences far beyond the groups he is speaking about.

Trump’s incendiary language about Muslims (about a quarter of which are African American), Hispanics (not only illegal immigrants but native-born Americans like Judge Gonzalo Curiel) and African Americans (e.g. referring to “my” African American at a rally, telling African Americans they have “no” jobs and that their lives are a “disaster”) poisons the well with voters in those groups, but also with Asian Americans, Jews (and other religious minorities) and women — really anyone with a high sensitivity to prejudice.

Trump does not direct his comments to Asian Americans, but his message registers loud and clear. Gerald Seib writes that while Clinton and Trump both have unfavorables with Asian Americans,  a survey by the Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote project found that “40% said they would vote against a candidate who expressed ‘strongly anti-immigrant views,’ even if they agreed with that candidate on other issues.” (It may also be that “many of these Asian-Americans also are making their marks in the high-tech world, where Mr. Trump’s immigration policies are unpopular,” Seib says.) Moreover, Trump’s dumbed-down campaign is generally going over poorly with the college-educated sector of  electorate where Asian Americans are disproportionately represented. (“[50.5 percent] of Asians, age 25 and older . . .  have a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education. Asians have the highest proportion of college graduates of any race or ethnic group in the country and this compares with 28 percent for all Americans 25 and older.”)

Donald Trump warns supporters that Democratic rival Hillary Clinton will accuse them of racism, saying that is a tired strategy of the Democratic party. (The Washington Post)

Likewise both anecdotal evidence and fundraising numbers suggest Trump may hit an all-time low with Jewish voters, who historically have voted solidly Democratic but in certain elections have given the GOP candidate a substantial amount of support (e.g. Ronald Reagan with 40 percent). Trump’s vilification of outsiders, authoritarian rhetoric, contempt for the free press and habitual stereotyping are all major turn-offs with Jewish voters, even those inclined to vote Republican in the past. Moreover, Trump’s low brow campaign misses the mark with a highly-educated group of Americans. (The Pew poll in 2013 found: “Most Jews are college graduates (58%), including 28% who say they have earned a post-graduate degree. By comparison, 29% of U.S. adults say they graduated from college, including 10% who have a post-graduate degree.”) Trump also is losing big among Catholics and Mormons, two minority religious groups that have felt the sting of prejudice.

Then we move over to women, where Trump is bombing. His numbers are especially dreadful — you guessed it — with minority women and white women with a college degree:

This year’s election could be historic by making white college-educated women a lynchpin of a decisive Democratic win – an unintended consequence of Trump’s full-throated old-style male bravado, as a contrast to Clinton’s more inclusive messages. These women not only favor the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, but do so decisively – a shift that occurred just after both parties’ conventions took place.

In sum, what Trumpkins and anti-immigrant Republicans more generally fail to appreciate is that the “bait” for white male, less-educated voters loses all sorts of voters — African Americans, Hispanics, Asians Americans, religious minorities, women and college-educated Americans. Trump’s nasty, ignorant rhetoric compels minorities who are in essence “listening in” on how he talks about Hispanics or African Americans to reject Trump. They too are looking for a tolerant, inclusive and empathetic candidate. And the more educated a voter is — perhaps more policy-focused, able to defect Trump’s ignorance and inculcated with anti-bias messages — the more critical he or she is going to be of Trump. They are quite frankly embarrassed by Trump and want to disassociate themselves from his hateful rhetoric.

It’s a lesson for Republicans beyond 2016. The “missing” white voters Trump and to some extent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) set out to find don’t exist in great numbers, but there are throngs of voters put off by the typical appeals to less-educated whites. Republicans had better find non-divisive messages that appeal to working-class whites without triggering alarm bells for everyone else. Otherwise, the GOP might as well close up shop.

What Donald Trump is doing on the campaign trail

MANCHESTER, NH - NOVEMBER 7: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at SNHU Arena in Manchester, NH on Monday November 07, 2016. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)