RALEIGH, N.C. — Public Policy Polling’s newest Iowa poll found that nearly half of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s supporters think the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was a good idea.

The topic has come up in connection with calls from public officials to bar Syrian refugees from the U.S. and Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from immigrating to the U.S.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Among Trump voters, 48 percent say they support the use of internment during World War II, to only 21 percent who say they oppose it. Overall, just 29 percent of Republicans support that to 39 percent opposed and 32 percent not sure, and supporters of all the other candidates are against it — 29/33 with Ted Cruz voters, 23/54 with Marco Rubio’s, 12/48 with Ben Carson’s, and 13/56 with Jeb Bush’s.

Supporters of Trump and the other GOP candidates were asked about some of his inflammatory comments about Muslims. Responses include the following:

• 78 percent of Trump supporters back his call to bans Muslims from entering the country, to only 13 percent who oppose it. Overall, 54 percent of Republicans support him on that to 28 percent who are opposed. Supporters of Cruz (62/20) and Carson (54/25) also favor a Muslim ban while backers of Rubio (28/48) and Bush (28/49) are opposed.

• 65 percent of Trump supporters think thousands of Arabs in New Jersey cheered the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11, to only 11 percent who don’t think that happened. Overall, 43 percent of Republicans think that event occurred to 29 percent who don’t. Supporters of Carson (44/10) and Cruz (45/26) agree with Trump’s that it happened while those of Rubio (24/47) and Bush (12/62) say it didn’t.

• 59 percent of Trump supporters approve of a national database of Muslims, to 18 percent who are opposed. Republicans as a whole are evenly divided on that issue, 40/40. Carson supporters (42/38) join with Trump’s in wanting a Muslim database, but those of Cruz (38/42), Rubio (32/48), and Bush (19/62) are all against it.

• 45 percent of Trump voters want to shut down the mosques in the U.S., to only 23 percent who are opposed to doing that. Overall, just 27 percent of Republicans support that to 45 percent who are opposed. Supporters of all the other major GOP candidates are opposed to shutting down mosques — 32/48 with Carson backers, 25/44 with those of Cruz, 9/66 with Rubio voters, and 9/69 with Bush’s.

“Donald Trump’s supporters agree with every extremist view he’s put forth in this campaign,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “So it’s not a surprise that the latest controversy doesn’t seem to be hurting him at all. When you see his supporters expressing the opinion that Japanese internment was a good thing, it explains a lot about why he continues to do so well.”

The poll results, released Dec. 15, find Trump and Cruz at the top of the heap with 28 percent and 25 percent, respectively. Rubio at 14 percent and Carson at 10 percent are also in double digits with Bush at 7 percent the only other candidate who clears even 3 percent. Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabee all hit that level with John Kasich and Rand Paul each getting 2 percent, Lindsey Graham and Rick Santorum each getting 1 percent, and Jim Gilmore and George Pataki both having no support.

Trump, Cruz, Rubio, and Bush have all seen varying increases in their support in the six weeks since PPP last polled Iowa. Cruz has the most momentum, picking up 11 points from his 14 percent standing in early November. Trump has gained six points, Rubio four points, and Bush two.

“Ted Cruz’s momentum in Iowa is getting all the attention,” said Debnam, “but Donald Trump is on the upswing there as well.”

There are a lot of divisions between where Cruz and Trump’s support is coming from. Among voters whose biggest concern is having a candidate who’s conservative on the issues, Cruz leads with 33 percent to 26 percent for Trump and 15 percent for Carson. But with voters whose biggest concern is being able to beat a Democrat in the general election, Trump wins out with 31 percent to 20 percent each for Cruz and Rubio.

Cruz leads Trump 31/30 with men, but Trump more than makes up for that with a 26/17 lead among women. Cruz has a strong advantage with “very conservative” voters at 37 percent to 25 percent for Trump and 14 percent for Carson, but Trump leads based on his strength with moderates, getting 42 percent to 14 percent each for Rubio and Bush.

“It’s ironic that Trump leads with moderates, because the views of his supporters wouldn’t be considered moderate by most standards,” PPP said in its press release.

PPP surveyed 526 usual Democratic primary voters and 522 usual Republican primary voters from Dec. 10 to 13; 80 percent of participants responded by phone, while 20 percent who did not have landlines conducted the survey over the Internet. The margin of error for both parties is +/-4.3 percent.

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