Many Republicans are heartened by strong rhetoric addressing what they view as a threat to national security by Islam itself, analysts say. Because Muslims are a small voting bloc, the candidates see limited fallout from what they are saying in the campaign.
“I think this issue exists on its own island,” said Steve Schmidt, a Republican political consultant who ran Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. “It’s highly unlikely to cause a political penalty and there is no evidence that it has.”…
[Carson] Campaign manager Barry Bennett told The Associated Press, “While the left wing is huffing and puffing over it, Republican primary voters are with us at least 80-20.”
“People in Iowa particularly, are like, ‘Yeah! We’re not going to vote for a Muslim either,” Bennett said at the time. “I don’t mind the hubbub. It’s not hurting us, that’s for sure.”
According to a 2014 poll by the Pew Research Center, Republicans view Muslims more negatively than they do any other religious group, and significantly worse than do Democrats.