The survey, by the non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute, and the center-left Brookings Institution, measures Americans’ attitudes about a broad range of issues relating to immigration and demographic change. Consistently, the poll found that Trump supporters view the changes with greater—often much greater—alarm than not only Democrats or independents, but also Republicans who did not support Trump during the GOP primaries. In all, the survey shows that Trump was lifted by a coalition that largely believes the America it has known is under siege—and that unprecedented measures are required to reverse the threat.
According to figures provided to me by PRRI, Trump supporters (including both Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who backed him during the primary) are more likely than Democrats, independents or other Republicans to say that they worry about being a victim of terrorism or violent crime; that they are bothered when they hear immigrants talking in a language other than English; that discrimination against whites is as great a problem as discrimination against minorities; and that American and Islamic values are inherently at odds. Fully 80 percent of Trump voters say that immigrants are more burden than benefit to America; just 27 percent of Democrats, 41 percent of independents, and 53 percent of other Republicans agree.
Often the contrast between Trump supporters and all other adults widened further when the poll measured those who hold these positions most vehemently. Fully 44 percent of Trump supporters, for instance, said they “completely agree” it bothers them when they hear immigrants speaking a language other than English; less than half as many independents, Democrats, or non-Trump-supporting Republicans agreed. Likewise, while about two-fifths of Trump Republicans “completely” agreed that “because things have gotten so far off track in this country, we need a leader who is willing to break some rules,” less than one-fifth of Democrats, independents, and other Republicans concurred.
That instinct helps explain the broad support in Trump’s coalition for his edgiest proposals; indeed, the poll makes clear that Trump triumphed not in spite of his most polarizing ideas, but largely because of them. Roughly four-fifths of Trump supporters say they back his plans to build a wall with Mexico, to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country, and to bar Syrian refugees. In each case, between 43 and 47 percent of Trump supporters back those ideas strongly.
But each of those three ideas face solid majority opposition from the public overall, drawing support from only about one-quarter of Democrats and two-fifths of independents. (Most non-Trump-supporting Republicans do back them, but by much narrower margins.) Similarly, the poll found, less than one-quarter of independents, Democrats, or other Republicans support Trump’s pledge to deport all undocumented immigrants; even most of his own backers say they would allow the undocumented to obtain legal status and remain.