Dems have not figured out how to successfully counter anti-immigrant message, says pollster

Robert Jones, founder and CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), said Thursday that Democrats have not yet found a way to counter anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from parts of the Republican party. 

"Among white-working class voters, the thing that pulled them toward [then-candidate] Trump was actually more anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim [appeals], it was those cultural appeals. It was much less the economy," Jones told Hill.TV's Joe Concha on "What America's Thinking."

"It was those white-working class voters who were economically distraught, and kind of had a fatalistic view of their future, in particular, things like not seeing college that would pay off. That factor went toward Trump," he continued. 

"Democrats have got to get better at painting a picture, and making the case for why a pluralistic America is a good thing for the country," he said. "How do Democrats counter the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim strain that the Republican Party under Trump has really foregrounded." 

A PRRI survey conducted last year found that 62 percent of white working-class Americans believe the growing number of immigrants are threatening America's culture. 

The survey also found that 79 percent of white-working class voters who said they were evangelical Protestants expressed anxiety about a cultural change in the U.S.

As a candidate, Trump rallied white, working-class voters, seeking to appeal to those who he said were "forgotten" by the country's focus on its urban economies.

— Julia Manchester