We can peg Republican silence (for the most part) on the fact that many Republicans who might be willing to go after Trump on issues related to immigration are no longer in Congress. They either retired, died or were beaten in the 2018 midterm elections.
Outside of this group, a low percentage of Republicans commented on the President’s tweets. One of the few was Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, who said they were “racist.” Turner, like many of that group of 23, has a history of taking more moderate positions on immigration.
Turner has earned a C- over his career and a D+ over the last two congresses. That’s far higher than the average B+ among the Republicans who served last Congress and won reelection.
Indeed, Turner’s record is closer to those Republicans in 2018 whose seats are now held by Democrats. Among that group, their average score was a C+. Additionally, eight of the 16 who had a D or worse are no longer serving.
In other words, the House lost a lot of moderate Republican voices on immigration.
We see basically the same pattern when we expand our analysis to the Senate. The elected Republican senators who stepped down, died or were defeated in 2018 tended to be more moderate on immigration. Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi (C+), Bob Corker of Tennessee (C+), Jeff Flake of Arizona (C-), Orrin Hatch of Utah (C), Dean Heller of Nevada (C) and John McCain of Arizona (D) were all below the average Republican senator’s score of a B.
For Trump critics, there is a bright side to a lack of moderate Republican voices on immigration: Those who have left the House have been replaced by Democrats. Democrats are more than willing to call Trump out and try to pass a resolution condemning him for his weekend tweets.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that Rep. Mike Turner has taken moderate immigration positions.