So what was Donald Trump thinking in beginning and sustaining an attack on the Gold Star parents of a Muslim-American service member who died heroically in Iraq? In doing so, he managed to deepen public attention to one of the Democratic Convention’s most compelling moments, and reinforce Hillary Clinton’s argument that Trump is no true patriot.
At the time I cynically figured that Trump’s supporters would back him in any dispute with Muslims, regardless of the circumstances. But according to the ABC/Washington Post poll released over the weekend, not much of anybody backed Trump against the Khans.
Among all registered voters, 74 percent disapproved of “the way Trump has handled this,” with 56 percent disapproving strongly; only 13 percent approved. The numbers for self-identified independents are very similar. Even among Republicans, the disapproval/approval ratio is 59/23. Another demographic of interest is white evangelical Protestants, who disapproved by 63/20, with 32 disapproving strongly.
In an analysis of the ABC/WaPo survey, the Post’s Scott Clement looks through the findings and sees little evidence that the Khan incident is affecting Trump’s overall standing. And even if he’s wrong about that, we should all remember that a similarly ugly stretch of inscrutable and bigoted behavior by Trump, towards Judge Gonzalo Curiel, was widely condemned but did not keep the mogul from drawing even with Clinton in polls shortly thereafter. The scary thought is that voters have already factored in an assumption that Trump has nasty views about Muslims and immigrants and those people generally that they say they do not share — but are open to voting for him anyway.