One-Third of Voters Less Likely to Back Trump After Khan Comments

(Rob Kunzig/Morning Consult)

More than one-third of voters say they are less likely to vote for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump following his response to criticism from a Muslim American couple whose son died serving the United States during the Iraq War, according to a new Morning Consult poll.

But many voters are still in favor of Trump’s policies temporarily banning Muslims from immigrating to the United States and banning immigration from countries with a history of terrorism.

The national poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday amid the four-day news cycle spawned by Trump’s suggestion that Khizr Khan had instructed his wife, Ghazala Khan, to stay silent during their appearance at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. During the speech, Khizr Khan assailed Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration, questioning his knowledge of the Constitution and his commitment to the country.

Trump, in response, suggested that Ghazala Khan wasn’t allowed to speak. “Maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say,” he told ABC’s George Stephanapoulos. Trump also said that he, too, has made sacrifices. “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”

Trump also said in a tweet that Khan “viciously attacked me” from the DNC stage.

Do Donald Trump’s criticisms and responses to the Khan family make you more or less likely to vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 election?

 More likelyLess LikelyDoesn't Change
Registered Voters14%34%41%
Democrats6%53%32%
Independents9%31%45%
Republicans28%14%49%

Trump’s critique of the Khan family left 34 percent of voters less likely to vote for him, while 14 percent said it made them more likely to back Trump. Republicans were more forgiving, but 14 percent of them still said that Trump’s remarks made them less likely to support him in the election.

Importantly, the episode made 31 percent of self-identified independent voters less likely to vote for Trump, although 45 percent said the incident didn’t change anything about their vote in November.

In just a few days since Khan spoke at the Democratic convention, where he waved a pocket Constitution and accused Trump of “sacrificing nothing and no one” for the country, 63 percent of voters had heard some or a lot about his appearance. More than half of voters (56 percent) agreed with Khan’s sentiment, though more than one-fourth (26 percent) disagreed with his remarks.

Do you agree or disagree with Khan’s statement that Donald Trump has ”sacrificed nothing, and no one” in defense of the United States?

 AgreeDisagreeDon't Know/No Opinion
Registered51%26%22%
Democrats74%12%14%
Independents47%24%29%
Republicans30%45%24%

In response to Khan’s remarks about Trump, 39 percent of voters said they had a less favorable view of the Republican nominee. Only 13 percent of all respondents said Khan’s comments gave them a more favorable view of Trump, while 36 percent said Khan’s remarks had no impact on their opinion of the New York businessman.

More Republicans (20 percent) said Khan’s comments left them with a more favorable view of Trump instead of a less favorable view (18 percent), while 50 percent of GOP voters said Khan’s statements made no difference in their opinion of Trump.

Again, one-third of independents were moved away from Trump, saying Khan’s remarks gave them a less favorable view of the GOP nominee.

Trump’s response to Khan, both questioning the role of Ghazala Khan and claiming that he also sacrificed a lot by creating jobs, left voters with a far worse impression of him. Roughly six out of 10 respondents (59 percent) said those comments were inappropriate.

Do you support or oppose a temporary ban on all Muslims immigrating to the United States?

 SupportOpposeDon't Know/No Opinion
Registered Voters43%41%16%
Democrats22%62%16%
Independents30%38%22%
Republicans73%19%8%

Still, Trump’s proposed temporary ban on all Muslim immigration – the subject of the most striking parts of Khan’s remarks –  is supported by 43 percent of voters and opposed by 41 percent, within the 2-point margin of error. The policy proposal is backed by 73 percent of Republicans and 40 percent of independent voters but only 22 percent of Democrats.

Another proposal Trump that would place a ban on immigration from countries with a “proven history of terrorism” is supported by 58 percent of voters. Almost four out of 10 Democrats (38 percent) support that policy, along with 55 percent of independents and 83 percent of Republicans.

Half of voters said banning immigration from countries with terrorism is constitutional, while 26 percent said it was not. Only 35 percent think the ban on Muslims is unconstitutional, while 41 percent said it is not unconstitutional.

The Morning Consult poll surveyed 2,001 registered voters from Aug. 1-2 for a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. See the toplines and crosstabs.

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