Here’s the interesting thing: Even months ago, this same tension was already baked into public opinion.
My colleague Michael Tesler alerted me to an October YouGov poll in which 69 percent of respondents expressed a “very” or “somewhat” favorable view of the pope, 18 percent expressed an unfavorable view, and 13 percent did not have an opinion.
Francis was much more popular than Trump: Only 34 percent of people had a favorable view of Trump, while 61 percent had an unfavorable view.
And when you put those two views together? Of those with a favorable view of Francis, two-thirds (67 percent) had an unfavorable view of Trump. Trump was more popular (53 percent favorable) among the minority with an unfavorable view of Francis.
This pattern emerged among both Republicans and independents. Unsurprisingly, Democrats have an unfavorable view of Trump no matter what their opinion of the pope.
In short, the modal American — almost half the country — is someone who likes the pope but dislikes Trump.
On to South Carolina!