This week, the Supreme Court ruled that the third version of President Trump’s travel ban can be enforced pending further legal challenges. But despite this, and Trump’s history of anti-Muslim rhetoric, favorable opinions about Muslims are actually rising, a new poll finds.
There has been a sharp upswing in positive opinion in recent months. The number of people who view American Muslims positively has risen 9 points since July, according to the poll conducted by Zogby Analytics and published by the Arab American Institute. This is despite “an atmosphere of heightened xenophobia and a documented increase in reported hate crimes,” AAI says.
The poll also found that favorable opinions of Arabs have risen 7 percentage points since July. Fifty-two percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Arab Americans generally, compared to 40 percent in 2015, while 51 percent had a favorable opinion of American Muslims specifically, compared to 33 percent two years ago.
Opinions largely broke down along party lines. Fifty-eight percent of Democrats and 26 percent of Republicans had a favorable opinion of Muslims, while 54 to 26 percent had a favorable view of Arabs. Trump supporters were more likely to have unfavorable opinions and to back his proposed travel bans: Two-thirds of the Democrats surveyed disapproved of them, while 52 percent of Republicans approved. “It is clear that an environment of bigoted policies and hateful rhetoric has strengthened the persistent partisan divide in these attitudes,” AAI said.
An FBI report released on Nov. 13 showed that hate crimes against Muslims have doubled in the last two years, but a majority of Republicans don’t believe there has been a rise in discrimination against Muslims in America, according to the AAI poll. While three-quarters of Democrats said there had been a rise in discrimination, only 36 percent of Republicans did. Similarly, 68 percent of Democrats said there had been a rise in hate crimes against Muslims, but only 28 percent of Republicans held that view.