The top-line results in the latest Public Policy Polling survey suggest Iowa Republicans are largely in line with GOP voters nationally. But that’s not what’s important in this poll.
PPP found, for example, that only three Republican presidential hopefuls are in double digits in the Hawkeye State: Donald Trump leads with 24%, Ben Carson isn’t too far behind with 17%, and Carly Fiorina is a competitive third with 13%.
From there, there’s a second tier with “decent levels of support,” as the PPP report put it. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are tied for fourth with 8% each, while Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee are tied for sixth place with 6% each.
The top-line results, however, aren’t the most interesting result in the poll. Indeed, these results include Scott Walker – who was in eighth place, for what it’s worth – who ended his campaign before the survey was published.
What’s far more striking is this:
[Donald Trump is] probably not hurting himself too much with his negativity toward Muslims either – only 49% of Republicans think the religion of Islam should even be legal in the United States with 30% saying it shouldn’t be and 21% not sure. Among Trump voters there is almost even division with 38% thinking Islam should be allowed and 36% that it should not.
Let that sink in for a moment. Many of the same social conservatives who believe Americans’ freedom of religion must be protected at all costs also believe that a faith tradition they don’t like should be illegal. When these Iowa Republicans view the Constitution, they see a First Amendment that exists for them, not those they find offensive.
After Ben Carson said Muslims should be disqualified for the presidency because of their faith, his campaign manager boasted, “While the left wing is huffing and puffing over it, Republican primary voters are with us at least 80-20. People in Iowa particularly, are like, ‘Yeah! We’re not going to vote for a Muslim either.’”
Given the PPP findings, it seems Team Carson, as offensive as its posture is, knows its audience.
The same poll, by the way, found that 69% of Iowa Republicans – over two-thirds – believe President Obama is “waging a war on Christianity.”
And while it’s unsettling to think about the alternate universe these GOP voters must be living in, let’s also pause to remember that these same voters will have considerable influence over the 2016 Republican nominee for president of the United States.