Why, oh why, are Republican voters rallying around Donald Trump in such alarmingly large numbers? Maybe this Des Moines Register poll finding out of Iowa, which was just released this morning, provides a clue:

Round them up, nearly half of likely Iowa Republican caucusgoers say.
Forty-seven percent say it’s a good idea to gather up an estimated 11 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally and send them to their home country.
Among Donald Trump supporters, nearly three-fourths (73 percent) say so.
But among all the other Iowans who support the other 16 candidates, just 40 percent say rounding up immigrants here illegally is a good approach. A plurality, 45 percent, say it is a bad idea.

Nearly half of Iowa Republican caucus-goers say Trump’s call for deporting all undocumented immigrants is a good idea, and nearly three quarters of Trump supporters say the same. By contrast, those who support any candidate other than Trump think mass deportations is a bad idea by 45-40.

The Des Moines Register headline this morning spells it out: “Iowa Poll: Nearly half want to round up immigrants.” As Register political writer Jennifer Jacobs puts it, Trump’s “popularity rests partly on his supporters’ belief that he’ll prevent immigrants here illegally from staying.”

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You should never read too much into one poll. But numerous other national surveys point in this direction. A recent Fox News poll found that 70 percent of Republicans think Trump was basically right when he described immigrants as drug-dealers and rapists. A recent CNN poll found that 63 percent of Republicans think the focus of immigration policy should be on securing the border and “deporting those already here.” And a recent CBS News poll found that 65 percent of Republican primary voters trust Trump to do the right thing on immigration.

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To be clear, as I have written, many GOP primary voters do not share the apparent views of Trump supporters. Some polls have shown that surprisingly large numbers of Republicans favor some kind of legalization. GOP pollsters who have carefully studied attitudes towards immigration among GOP primary voters have found layers of complexity, nuance, and sympathy. Still, some polling evidence does suggest that a great many Republican voters do agree with Trump’s most crudely expressed views on the issue that he talks publicly about most —  views that have received national media attention for months now. I don’t know how much of a role this is playing in driving Trump’s appeal. But it’s worth at least pondering the role it might be playing.

One last point about this: It has been widely observed by reporters who have talked to Trump supporters that they think he’s “telling it like it is” or delivering them “straight talk.” So let’s be clear: vowing to “make America great again” by building a wall on the Mexican border and deporting 11 million people is neither of those things. It is not “telling it like it is.” It is not “straight talk.” Yet many of his supporters seem to enjoy being told these “truths.” So perhaps the better way to understand what’s happening here is that Trump’s supporters like the story he is telling them, which is largely that immigrants are to blame for the suffering of American workers.

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* OBAMA CLOSE TO CLINCHING IRAN DEAL: The New York Times has a good overview, noting that 33 Senators now back the Iran agreement, one away from the 34 needed to sustain a veto, and raising the possibility that a veto fight might be avoided altogether. Also:

Despite the continuing rancor on Capitol Hill, there was also growing recognition, even among some accord opponents, that the other nations — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, and especially Iran — would be unwilling to renegotiate the agreement even if Congress formally rejected it.

Supporters are winning the argument. If Congress blocks the deal, that could bring its own set of consequences, and Dems increasingly realize they don’t want to own those consequences.

* MATH LOOKS TOUGH FOR IRAN AGREEMENT’S FOES: The Hill delivers the news:

In order to defeat the accord, opponents will now need all 11 undecided Democrats to vote against it — likely an impossible task. The president and his Senate allies have a realistic chance of defeating the resolution with a filibuster, which they could accomplish by winning over eight of the 11 undeclared Democrats. 

Getting eight of the remaining 11 is not impossible, but it is hard. Keep an eye on Cardin, Heidi Heitkamp, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, and Michael Bennet, (who’s up in 2014).

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* A SENATOR TO WATCH ON IRAN DEAL: Politico takes a look at the deliberations of Senator Ben Cardin, whose position on the deal will carry a lot of weight, as he is the top Dem on the foreign relations committee. Note how opponents are pressuring him:

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Opponents say Cardin should vote at least to force Obama to veto the measure — and confront the fact that a majority of Congress disapproves of the deal.

At this point, foes are just hoping to force a messy veto-override fight. As one of the last truly remaining undecided Dems, he’s surely aware that he’ll help determine whether there is such a veto fight, and that it would also could carry negative consequences.

* JEB GETTIN’ TOUGH WITH THE DONALD: The Post reports on the pitfalls Jeb Bush faces in going on offense against frontrunner Donald Trump. If he fights back, he risks a brawl with an “effective counter-puncher.” If he stays quiet, he looks weak. And:

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Some Republicans are skeptical that Bush’s issue-based strikes will undercut Trump’s appeal, which is based less on ideology than on broad anger about the direction of the nation. “We have reached a moment where conservatism isn’t defined by issues anymore for a big percentage of the country,” said Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Heh. So taking issue with the cruelty and impracticality of specific Trump proposals like deporting all undocumented immigrants probably won’t get it done, then!

* TRUMP RETURNS THE FAVOR, MOCKING JEB AS WEAK: This morning on ABC News, Trump responded to the new get-tough Jeb:

“Well, I think he had no choice,” the real estate mogul told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos this morning on Good Morning America. “It seems to be backfiring, based on the polls. It seems to be somewhat backfiring on Jeb….So far everyone that has attacked me has gone down. Let’s see what happens.”

Again and again, Trump has defied the expectations of Republicans and pundits alike, and has kept on rising.

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* HILLARY’S UNFAVORABLE RATINGS RISE AGAIN: A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that Hillary Clinton’s unfavorable ratings are up to 53 percent, the highest since 2008. But note the comparison to Joe Biden:

Among fellow Democrats, Clinton boasts a higher favorability rating of 80 percent to Biden’s 70 percent. Both Biden and Clinton garner favorable ratings above 80 percent among liberal Democrats, but among moderate and conservative Democrats, Clinton’s 3-to-1 positive ratio outstrips Biden’s 2-to-1….Clinton is also significantly stronger than Biden among African Americans and Hispanics, at 79 and 68 percent favorable, respectively.

That might complicate the narrative that Clinton’s troubles give Biden an opening in the Dem primary.

 * HOW THE HILLARY ‘SCANDAL’ MILL WORKS: Dana Milbank takes a look at the latest nonsense emanating from the Hillary scandal mill, and observes:

As with much of the product generated by the anti-Clinton scandal mill, the merit of the allegations doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that the constant stream of accusations further the notion that Clinton is corrupt.

Good luck getting commentators to admit this, though!

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