That headline may be self-evident these days, but at least we have some pretty solid data to back it up.
According to a new Pew Research study, if you look just at Republican voters who think the growing number of newcomers in the United States “threatens traditional American customs and values,” more than twice as many have “warm feelings toward Donald Trump” as have cold ones. Among those who say immigrants strengthen U.S. society, it’s about 2-to-1 in the other direction.
What’s more, only 21 percent of Republicans said that immigrants “strengthen” America. But among these Republicans, only 30 percent told pollsters they have “warm feelings” about Trump and an even smaller share — 14 percent — feel “very warmly” about the presumptive Republican nominee.
The same was true of feelings about Islam and the fact that the U.S. population, in a few decades, will be mostly black, Latino and Asian, not white. In both cases, attitudes more antipathetic toward Islam and the country’s increasing diversity were more in-line with Trump support, while people who thought Islam is not more violent than other religions and that increased diversity isn’t a bad thing were colder toward Trump.
This, of course, begins to explain why some of Trump’s more controversial policy positions — building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, temporarily banning Muslim immigration and tracking Muslims in a database — have not damaged but instead bolstered his standing with Republican primary voters.
Trump has clearly exploited and perhaps reinforced some deep-seated reservations about immigrants, Islam and even diversity more generally. The question is whether that will continue to work with the broader electorate.
The survey was conducted April 5 through May 2 and involved 4,385 adults. Of these, 1,701 people identified themselves as Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters.