The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

64 percent of Americans want to either halt Syrian refugees or accept only Christians

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The last time Bloomberg News did a national poll to determine the issues most important to Americans was in September. The main worry then was what it has been for a long time: unemployment and jobs. The second-most important issue was stagnant wage growth. Pocketbook issues.

On Wednesday, a new poll conducted by Bloomberg after the terror attacks last Friday in Paris that killed 129 people. And in the new poll, new concerns.

That's a 10-point increase in the percentage of people worried about the Islamic State and a 7-point increase in the percentage of people most worried about terrorism. Unemployment and jobs? Sank.

The most politically powerful data point in the new poll, though, is the one dealing with the possibility of Syrian refugees being re-settled in the United States. More than half of Americans oppose the existing plan to allow 10,000 refugees to enter the country -- with nearly 70 percent of Republicans holding that position.

The proposal from Sen. Ted Cruz and former Florida governor Jeb Bush to only allow Christian refugees isn't very popular either. Only 11 percent of respondents agreed with that idea.

In part, that may be because most people separate the Islamic faith from the actions of the terrorists. Strong majorities of Democrats and Republicans see Islam as a peaceful faith that is occasionally perverted in the name of violent acts.

When asked about a possible response, the left and the right were more likely to disagree. A majority of Republicans disagree with President Obama and think we should send more troops to combat the Islamic State. A majority of Democrats do not.

That same partisan split appears when asked if the government has done enough to keep America safe from a Paris-style attack. Democrats think so; Republicans don't.

As always, it's worth remembering that polls like this are a snapshot of a marathon: They show where people are and how their positions have changed far more accurately than they predict where people will end up. The two most important lessons from this new data are that, first, partisan lenses matters in evaluating policy proposals. And, second, that major events can change things in a hurry.

Watch: 5 things to know about Syrian refugees in the U.S. (Video: Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)