Donald Trump (photo: Matthew Stockman, Getty Images)
A national online poll published by Bloomberg this week found what many pundits considered a surprising—if not disconcerting—65% show of support by likely Republican primary voters for presidential candidate Donald Trump’s statement that all Muslims should be barred from entering the country.
A separate poll, conducted online by SurveyUSA, found even more San Diego Republicans, 71%, approved this message. San Diego voted for Democratic President Barack Obama by more than seven points over Mitt Romney in 2012. The margin of error in the poll is high, +-3.2 to 4.5 percentage points.
Fifty-three percent of Republicans “strongly” agreed with Trump, and 18% “somewhat” agreed. Fourteen percent “strongly” disagreed and 15% “somewhat” agreed.
What a short, strange trip it’s been and one that San Diegans have not made alone. SurveyUSA also took the measure of Republicans to the north in the Fresno-Visalia area and found 69% agreed with the Trump sentiment that we need “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.” They also voted for Obama three years ago.
Forty-nine percent of Republicans “strongly” agreed with Trump, and 20% “somewhat” agreed. Thirteen percent “strongly” disagreed and 18% “somewhat” agreed.
Democrats responded to the Trump question in the three polls somewhat less enthusiastically, but there is a constituency for the billionaire real estate developer’s attitude and statements about Muslims. Eighteen percent of Democrats in the Bloomberg poll agree with Trump and 7% “don’t know.” Seventy-five percent disagreed.
Twenty-nine percent of San Diego Democrats “strongly” agree with Trump and 8% “somewhat” agree. Forty-nine percent “strongly” disagree and 13% “somewhat” agree.
Twenty-nine percent of Fresno-Visalia Democrats “strongly” agreed with Trump and 19% “somewhat” agreed. Thirty-nine percent “strongly” disagreed and 12% “somewhat” disagreed.
The Survey USA polls showed a slim majority of respondents in both parties combined (52%) supported Trump’s statement in San Diego and 59% agreed with it to some degree in Fresno-Visalia.
The toppling of the World Trade Center towers did not elicit broad support for this sort of anti-Muslim policy after September 11, 2001. It is only recently, after years of demonizing gays and immigrant Latinos as “the other,” that anti-Muslim sentiment has expanded beyond a fear of radicalized Jihadists to a full-blown rejection of Islam legitimacy.
While Trump has galvanized that substantial portion of the electorate, the media seems slow to grasp the dimensions of the shift. Writing in Politico, considered one of the more astute online observers, Eli Stokols in a story headlined “GOP Struggles to Escape Trump Trap” reported on the fear among party operatives that the candidate is ruining the Republican brand and distracting the electorate from issues that would nail down their votes.