Last night, a new NBC/WSJ poll showed that 57% of Americans opposed Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US. That poll had a big issue in the way it was conducted; it used Trump’s name in it, which could tend to spoil the results with an emotional response that might not be related to the question. A new CBS poll solves that problem by leaving Trump’s name out of the questions, but still comes up with almost the same topline number:
Nearly six-in-10 Americans say the United States should not temporarily bar Muslims from other countries from entering the U.S., and two-thirds say such a ban would go against the founding principles of this country, a CBS News poll shows.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump sparked a firestorm when he proposed keeping Muslims from coming in.
There are some differences in the two polls too, and they are intriguing. The NBC/WSJ poll showed only a narrow plurality of Republicans supporting such a ban, and when that poll drilled down to likely voters, it became a virtual tie at 38/39, not far off from the same level of support Trump now gets in primary polling. The CBS poll sticks to adults rather than registered or likely voter screens, but a majority of Republican adults supports the idea of a ban, 54/38. Democrats oppose it 23/73 (which is an interesting number, too), while independents oppose it 35/59, almost the same as the overall 36/58.
Oddly, though, only 45% of Republicans think such a policy would make the US safer, and a majority of Republicans (51%) believe it goes against the nation’s founding principles. Those differences may be due to the 6% margin of error for the Republican and Democratic subgroups, but it’s still unusual and somewhat contradictory. (The overall MoE of the poll is 4%.)
When it comes to the proposal for a “Muslim registries” — another quasi-Trump proposal that has mostly faded from public discussion — the numbers get a little more mainstream:
The parameters of the “Muslim database” have never been quite clear. At first it was touted by the media as a Trump proposal for a database of all Muslims, including citizens and legal residents, which would be constitutionally problematic, if not outright offensive. A fair reading of the exchange with Trump showed his comments to be more about immigration, which is … a redundancy, since the government has records (a database) of all people entering the US legally anyway. This poll question seems framed more towards the original media meme, and it still ends up in a virtual tie. Yikes.
But did this question apply to US citizens who are Muslims in the minds of the respondents? That wouldn’t make much sense in light of the responses to this question:
There isn’t much about this proposal that makes sense anyway. The two polls show enough similarity that one can presume at this point that a majority of Americans oppose it. In the Republican primary, it might be a good enough issue for Trump to win as long as the field is split between 4-5 legitimate contenders. If it gets down to two or three, though, it might end up being a self-limiting issue that puts a ceiling on Trump’s upside — but his deeply negative favorability numbers probably already do that anyway.