Trump Supporters Think Obama is A Muslim Born in Another Country

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s newest national poll finds Donald Trump just continuing to grow his lead over the GOP field. He is at 29% to 15% for Ben Carson, 9% for Jeb Bush, 8% for Carly Fiorina, 7% for Marco Rubio, 6% each for Ted Cruz and John Kasich, and 5% each for Mike Huckabee and Scott Walker. That group makes a pretty clear top 9. Rounding out the field are Chris Christie and Rick Santorum at 2%, Jim Gilmore, Rand Paul, and Rick Perry at 1%, and Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, and George Pataki at less than 1%. 

Our new poll finds that Trump is benefiting from a GOP electorate that thinks Barack Obama is a Muslim and was born in another country, and that immigrant children should be deported. 66% of Trump’s supporters believe that Obama is a Muslim to just 12% that grant he’s a Christian. 61% think Obama was not born in the United States to only 21% who accept that he was. And 63% want to amend the Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship, to only 20% who want to keep things the way they are.

Trump’s beliefs represent the consensus among the GOP electorate. 51% overall want to eliminate birthright citizenship. 54% think President Obama is a Muslim. And only 29% grant that President Obama was born in the United States. That’s less than the 40% who think Canadian born Ted Cruz was born in the United States.

Trump’s supporters aren’t alone in those attitudes though. Only among supporters of John Kasich (58/13), Jeb Bush (56/18), Chris Christie (59/33), and Marco Rubio (42/30) are there more people who think President Obama was born in the United States than that he wasn’t. And when you look at whose supporters are more inclined to think that the President is a Christian than a Muslim the list shrinks to just Christie (55/29), Kasich (41/22), and Bush (29/22).  Bush’s inability to appeal to the kind of people who hold these beliefs is what’s keeping him from succeeding in the race- his overall favorability is 39/42, and with voters identifying themselves as ‘very conservative’ it’s all the way down at 33/48.

Trump is winning his fight with Megyn Kelly. When we last polled her in December of 2013 her favorability with Republicans nationally was 44/9. Her favorability is in a similar place now at 42% but her negatives have shot up to 20%, largely because she’s at 20/43 with Trump’s supporters.  Meanwhile Trump’s popularity with GOP voters has just continued to grow. Last month before the debate his favorability with them was 48/39, now it’s improved to 56/30. Fox News as a whole isn’t suffering for the feud though- in February we found 66% of Republicans said they trusted the network, and now we find 66% say they have a favorable opinion of it.

Notes on candidates who aren’t Trump:

-Ben Carson is easily the most popular candidate in the field with a 68/14 favorability rating. The closest anyone else comes to that is Marco Rubio at 58/24. Carson is also the most frequent second choice of GOP voters at 13%. And he’s the only Republican who would win a head to head showdown with Trump, 49/43. Among candidates with meaningful support, only Mike Huckabee’s supporters would go to Trump in a head to head with Carson.

-Besides Trump and Carson the other candidates with momentum compared to our late July national poll are Carly Fiorina and John Kasich. Fiorina’s gone from 4% to 8%, and her 53/23 favorability rating makes her the most popular GOP candidate other than Carson and Trump. Kasich’s gone from 3% to 6% and is all the way up to double digits at 10% with moderate voters, putting him in 3rd place overall with that group.

-On quite the downward slide is Scott Walker who was in 2nd place at 17% last month and is now down all the way to a tie for 8th place at 5%. There is a little bit of silver lining for Walker. He’s one of only three Republicans to hit double digits when it comes to voters’ second place choice. And he still has a pretty solid 50/26 favorability rating. In that regard he’s at least a lot better positioned than Bush for example. 

-Chris Christie and Rand Paul fought in the first debate and it’s shaping up to be one of those duels where both combatants end up dead. Paul had a 42/30 favorability rating pre debate- now he’s dropped a net 33 points to 29/50, becoming one of the most unpopular GOP hopefuls. His support for the nomination has also skidded from an already weak 4% all the way down to 1%. Christie already really needed something to turn around for him after polling at 3% with a 25/56 favorability last month, but this month he’s at 2% with a 28/54 favorability and it’s hard to see the path back to relevance for him. 

-Marco Rubio (from 10% to 7%) and Mike Huckabee (from 8% to 5%) are also each down 3 points in the last month. The good news for them is their favorability numbers at least aren’t dropping- Rubio’s at 58/24 and Huckabee’s at 51/34. But at least for now voters are finding other options more compelling.

As conservative as the GOP electorate is in this poll, 78% of Republican primary voters support requiring criminal background checks on all firearm purchases, to only 14% who oppose them. And 49% support increasing the federal minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, to 26% who want to keep it where it is and 21% who want to eliminate it altogether.

On the Democratic side things are pretty steady. Last month Hillary Clinton led Bernie Sanders by 35 points and this month she leads him by 35 points again- she’s at 55% to 20% for Bernie Sanders, 4% for Martin O’Malley, 3% for Jim Webb, and 1% each for Lincoln Chafee and Lawrence Lessig. 

Clinton is over 60% with African Americans (65/14) and ‘very liberal’ voters (65/26), over 50% with ‘somewhat liberal’ voters (59/25), women (59/18), seniors (56/19), Hispanics (54/13), and white voters (52/24), and in the 40s with men, (49/24), younger voters (48/20), and moderates (47/19).

Clinton’s favorability numbers with Democratic primary voters have hit their lowest point at 63/26, while Sanders’ 49/21 is up from 42/26 in July. But for now those shifts in favorability don’t seem to be affecting the overall horse race numbers too much. We found Sanders ahead in New Hampshire last week and other polling has shown the race tightening in Iowa, but Clinton remains a resounding leader nationally.

Full results here

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