While no polling has been done recently on the President Donald Trump’s travel ban, there has never previously been a consensus on whether Americans approve or disapprove, with all polling done in February 2017 – when the ban was first proposed – split along party lines and highly dependent on question wording.
What the Supreme Court upheld Tuesday is the third version of the travel ban originally issued in September – after previous bans had ricocheted through the courts – and restricts entry from seven countries to varying degrees: Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Venezuela. Chad was originally on the list but it was recently removed after having met baseline security requirements.
CNN’s polling back in early 2017 found a majority opposed to the ban of “travel to the US for the next three months by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries,” and suspension of “the US refugee program for four months while reducing the total number of refugees the US will accept this year” with 53% in opposition and 47% in favor.
A plurality of those who say they are in favor of the ban also wanted it to be expanded – with 3-in-10 saying so and 15% saying they don’t want it expanded.
However, some polls show the divide even closer. An NBC/WSJ poll taken the same month found 44% saying the ban is necessary and 45% saying it is not. This particular question wording was two paragraphs long and explained in depth the reasoning of the ban and that it had been struck down in several courts. Respondents were asked whether the temporary ban is necessary as a temporary “safeguard against terrorism” or whether it isn’t necessary because “it goes against American principles.”
This question was also asked later on in February, so there’s a chance the argument was tightening. However, it is also possible that the lengthy question and arguments on both sides confounds opinions.
A Quinnipiac poll conducted in February last year found a large majority approved of the court’s decision to block President Trump’s executive order on immigration, with 59% saying they approve and 38% disapproving. A telling statistic, it shows that many would rather a court stop this from continuing.
Again, people were split on whether the travel ban will make the US more or less safe. Quinnipiac’s shows that divide with 37% saying more safe, 35% less safe, and a quarter saying it won’t make a difference. CNN asked the question differently, not offering that the ban wouldn’t make a difference as an explicit option. In that instance, 41% said it would make the country safer and 46% said it would make the country less safe. CBS found the two tied.
One majority that emerges is that most people see the travel ban for what the majority in the Supreme Court says it isn’t – a ban on Muslims. When CNN asked in February 2017 if the executive order is an attempt to ban Muslims from entering the US, 55% said it was.