The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Memo to Donald Trump: Most Americans don’t think Mexican immigrants are criminals

Donald Trump thinks most undocumented Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals -- "some," he assumes, "are good people."

But it appears Americans -- even conservatives -- think the exact opposite. A new Washington Post / ABC News poll asked Americans whether they think undocumented immigrants from Mexico are mainly undesirable people like criminals or mainly honest people trying to get ahead.

[The bad news for Trump? More than 60 percent of the country wouldn't consider voting for him]

Here's the results from the July 16-19 poll. As you can see, it's no contest:

Those unequivocal numbers hold even when you break the responses down to just conservatives, who tend not to support immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship:

Not even people who said they'd "definitely vote for Trump" -- about 14 percent of the population -- agree with his catch-all statements of undocumented immigrants:

But wait a second. If most Americans don't agree with Trump's assessment of undocumented immigrants, then why the heck is Trump surging in the polls, boosted in part by those comments?

As we're starting to realize, Trump's popularity may have less to do with what Trump actually says and more to do with the fact that what he says upsets the Washington establishment.

Here's what Wonkblog's Christopher Ingraham found on a visit with Trump supporters in rural Upstate New York, "In many cases, their support for Trump boiled down to a simple fact: they were angry."

[The real reason Americans support Donald Trump]

But Americans do harbor negative feelings toward some undocumented immigrants.

A Fox News poll conducted July 13-15 found between 62 percent to 79 percent of Americans are at least somewhat concerned that "illegal" immigrants are leading to an increase in crime, terrorism, taking jobs from U.S. citizens and overburdening government programs.

The difference between the rest of the country and Trump? They don't take their concerns and then disparage an entire group of people.

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What not to say if you're running for president, Donald Trump edition