Given the tenor of the coverage, you might think Trump’s travel ban is wildly unpopular. Not so. In fact, since he first signed his original executive order in January, various polls (but not all polls) have showed solid support for the initiative. January 31: Reuters finds backing for Trump’s order at 49/41. February 1: YouGov sees support for the 90-day ban on visas for travelers from seven Muslim countries at 48/31. February 8: Morning Consult places support for Trump’s order at 55/33. More recently, on June 6, Rasmussen recorded backing for Trump’s second, revised travel ban at 50/41.
And now here’s Morning Consult back again with numbers showing support for the 90-day visa ban at their highest level yet:
The requirement that people with “close family relationships” be exempted from the ban was imposed last week by the Supreme Court. The State Department reconfigured its policy accordingly and now lots of Americans are happy with it — 84 percent of Republicans, to be exact, as well as a surprisingly high 41 percent of Democrats (versus 46 percent against). That’s one theory for why support is climbing: SCOTUS’s accommodation for family members may be viewed by fencesitters as a reasonable compromise that makes a broader temporary ban on travel from those six countries acceptable.
But there’s another theory. Note who isn’t mentioned in the question posed by Morning Consult. Contrast that with the phrasing of an AP poll question from a few weeks ago which found, seemingly paradoxically, a strong majority of Americans in favor of the courts blocking Trump’s travel ban:
The AP question mentioned Trump explicitly and found that 82 percent of Democrats support the courts blocking his executive order. Morning Consult didn’t mention him and got a nearly even split among Dems on whether the policy, as revised by SCOTUS, is copacetic. The difference may be little more than knee-jerk opposition on the left to anything Trump does, not unlike how support for ObamaCare rises when you call it the “Affordable Care Act” instead of “ObamaCare.”
The alternate explanation, though, is that this isn’t about a Pavlovian reaction on the left to Trump but rather a reaction to SCOTUS. With the country’s top court now having greenlit the travel ban temporarily subject to certain adjustments, some fencesitters or even opponents of the ban might have reconsidered their earlier opinions that lower courts were right to block Trump’s order. The imprimatur of the Supreme Court still carries some influence, if not as much as it used to. Whatever the answer, it’s clear that the travel ban isn’t a major political liability for Trump, assuming it ever was. If anything, a big win in front of SCOTUS next year on the merits of it might turn it into a solid political asset.