A majority of Republicans support presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call to temporarily block Muslims from entering the United States, even as a clear majority of the public overall rejects the idea in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The survey finds broad sympathy for Muslims in the United States following recent terrorist attacks in Paris and California. The poll shows that more than seven in 10 adults think Muslims in the United States face discrimination for their religion, with nearly six in 10 saying such discrimination is not justified. Fewer than three in 10 say mainstream Islam encourages violence against non-Muslims, a similar finding to surveys conducted before the recent violence.
Trump’s proposal shook the presidential race last week, drawing rebuke from nearly all corners of the nation’s politics, as well as from leaders of U.S. allies abroad and legal experts who said the proposal runs against the Constitution and American values more broadly. Trump has stood by his position, arguing that many Muslims worldwide sympathize with terrorists and that a temporary ban on migrants is necessary. And other polls show little sign that Trump’s support for the nomination has decreased because of his comments.
Sixty-percent of Americans say Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims who are not U.S. citizens is the wrong thing to do, while 36 percent support it in the new poll. Nearly twice as many strongly oppose Trump’s proposal as strongly support it, 48 percent to 25 percent.
The results underscore the stark divide between a GOP base that is skeptical of Islam and the views of the American public more broadly.
Republicans endorse Trump’s proposal by a margin of 59 percent to 38 percent, with significant appeal across large swaths of the GOP electorate. For Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, support for Trump’s idea is especially strong among those who lack college degrees — a group that has been particularly supportive of Trump in general. Sixty-three percent of those respondents support Trump’s plan, while it falls to 44 percent among college graduates.
Republicans’ support for Trump’s proposal comes despite widespread criticism from GOP leaders and nearly all of his competitors for the nomination. Trump will face another challenge to his national security policies in a Republican debate Tuesday night, beginning the final six weeks before the Iowa caucuses in a contest that has refocused on national security and terrorism in response to the Islamic State’s rise and growing terrorism fears.
Support for Trump’s plan falls to 38 percent among political independents and to 17 percent among Democrats. His proposal also receives varying support across religious lines. Fewer than one-quarter of Americans with no religious affiliation support a ban on Muslims, 24 percent, compared with 40 percent of all Christians and 54 percent of white evangelical Protestants.
A 54 percent majority of Americans say mainstream Islam, excluding fringe elements and extremists, is a peaceful religion. Twenty-eight percent say mainstream Islam encourages violence against non-Muslims, similar to 31 percent in 2010 but down from about one-third in 2003 and 2006. More than six in 10 of those who say Islam encourages violence support Trump’s proposal blocking Muslims from entering the United States, while more than seven in 10 who say Islam is peaceful oppose his plan.
A 73 percent majority in the poll say Muslims living in the United States experience discrimination because of their religion, and the vast majority of this group says such discrimination is not justified. A smaller share, 14 percent of all adults, perceive discrimination against Muslims but say it is justified.
Nearly eight in 10 of those who say Muslims face unjustified discrimination say Trump’s proposal not to let Muslims enter the United States is wrong. Among those who say Muslims do not face discrimination or that discrimination is justified, more than six in 10 support Trump’s plan.
The Post-ABC poll was conducted Dec. 10-13 among a random national sample of 1,002 adults reached on conventional and cellular telephones. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.