Americans Have Mixed Feelings About Ted Cruz's Call To 'Patrol' Muslim Neighborhoods

It all depends on how you ask.

In the aftermath of last week's terrorist attacks on Brussels, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds that Americans are receptive to proposals targeting Muslims, even as they acknowledge a tide of rising anti-Islamic sentiment.

Forty-five percent of Americans agree with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's proposal to "empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized," a suggestion that drew immediate criticism from people including Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New York City's police commissioner. Another 40 percent disagree.

Fifty-one percent agree with Donald Trump, who has said there should be "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on," up from 45 percent in December.

The framing of such questions matters a lot. Other surveys have shown significantly lower support for the idea of banning an entire religious group from the U.S.

Even in the latest HuffPost/YouGov poll, different phrasing ended up with significantly different results.

People who agree with proposals targeting U.S. Muslims are more reluctant to directly condone singling them out. Those polled in the new survey say by a 7-point margin that Muslims shouldn’t be subject to additional scrutiny solely because of their religion.

Given the choice between two possible approaches, a 63 percent majority say it's better for law enforcement to work with Muslim communities than to subject them to intense surveillance.

Anti-Islamic sentiment, though widespread, hasn't intensified notably since the December terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. Sixty-one percent of Americans currently hold an unfavorable opinion of the religion, relatively unchanged from the 58 percent who said the same last year.

In comparison, 57 percent of Americans feel unfavorably toward atheism, 26 percent toward Judaism and 24 percent toward Christianity.

At the same time, most acknowledge that Muslim Americans face considerable prejudice. A 55 percent majority of Americans say there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims today, and 54 percent say such discrimination is on the rise. 

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted March 24-25 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls.You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.