24 March 2016

46% say “no” to Syrian refugees, 45% say “yes”


After Tuesday’s terrorist atrocities at Brussels’ international airport and at a metro station near the headquarter offices of the European Union the subject of terror has been back at the top of news headlines in America and around the globe. Each of the presidential candidates have made a number of statements about security and defence, in response, reaffirming existing policies and stating new positions. Just before the bombings Donald Trump also told the Washington Post that it might be time to scale back the US commitment to NATO.

We asked YouGov’s First Verdict panel to evaluate three of the statements that have been reported this week.

First of all, Ted Cruz has called on law enforcement agencies to “patrol and secure Muslim neighbourhoods before they become radicalised”. I’m not entirely sure what Senator Cruz means by “secure” but there were only 7% don’t knows when we asked panellists to evaluate what he said. 40% were supportive of his recommendation while 53% were concerned.

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46% of panellists were ready to take a tough line against President Obama’s plan for 10,000 Syrian refugees to come into America, fearing that terrorists could be included within that number. 16% thought 10,000 was an appropriate number and 29% thought the US should open its doors to many more than 10,000. That produces a 46%/45% split with nearly as many Americans ready to support at least the Obama policy of 10,000 as who oppose any Syrian immigration.

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Finally, the First Verdict panel was very divided on whether it was time for the US to scale back on its commitments to NATO. 42% agreed with Mr Trump that European nations needed to do more instead of the US. 45%, meanwhile, thought that this was not a time for the USA to stand back. I wonder if more would have been sympathetic to doing less if the proposition put to the panel hadn’t have been associated with Mr Trump but was unattached to any one candidate? As I’ve noted on CapX before, the United States currently “accounts for an astonishing 67% of all spending on defence by NATO member states”.

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For more about Portrait of America and the methodology behind First Verdict, click here.

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Tim Montgomerie is Editor of portrait of America