Poll: GOP supporters back hard line on immigration, trade, Muslims

New polling data released by the Pew Research Center shows that the majority of all Republican-leaning voters support Donald Trump's hard-line stances on immigration, trade, and Muslims.

When asked whether or not free trade agreements have been good or bad for the U.S., only 38% said good versus a clear majority (53%) indicating bad.  Just 36% of respondents indicated that American free trade agreements have helped their personal finances.

Barely more than one third (37%) of Republicans believe that the U.S. involvement in the global economy is a good thing.

More than two thirds (67%) are in favor of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and just 32% feel that immigrants strengthen the nation.

The one controversial finding in the poll is its suggestion that a majority of Republican voters (57%), and nearly half of Trump's GOP base (47%) would prefer that illegal immigrants be eligible to stay in the country if certain – albeit unspecified – requirements were met, as opposed to their outright deportation.  This result contrasts sharply with previous national polling data showing that nearly two thirds (64%) of Republicans are in favor of deportation over a path to residency, backed up by other polling results at about this level of support for deportation.

As well, prior polling data generally shows overwhelming – upwards of near 90% – support for deportation among Trump's overall base.  This highlights a potential flaw in using Pew's latest results to assess where Trump supporters stand on various issues.  While Trump continues to draw support dominantly from what would be termed "Republican-leaning" voters, a substantial portion of his potential voting bloc comes from those who classify themselves as independents -- among whom Trump holds a massive lead (43% to 19%) over Hillary Clinton – a group that often encompasses many of the so-called Reagan Democrats.

Independents can self-classify as either "Democrat-leaning" or "neither" in surveys, even if they intend to vote for Trump in the general election, because of their complex voting patterns that cross parties depending on the specific issue and level of government/type of office under consideration.  While Clinton's voting bloc is almost exclusively Democrats, Trump's support includes a much broader portion of the spectrum, rendering polling data restricted to "Republican/Republican leaning registered voters" problematic on some issues, such as whether or not to deport illegals.

On the question of whether to subject Muslims in the U.S. to more scrutiny than other religious groups, there is no room for debate.  A large majority (53% in favor; 41% opposed) of all GOP-leaning voters support enhanced and preferential scrutiny of Muslims – otherwise known as "profiling," which has proven very successful when it comes to national security concerns.

With regard to the ongoing #NeverTrump resistance led by some recalcitrant GOPe members, the latest polling data and long-term polling trends from Reuters show that this movement is a failure.  Just 7.8% of Republicans are considering voting for Clinton, a level that has declined substantially over the past month and is effectively unchanged since early February, and which is well below the fraction of Democrats supporting Trump (11.3%) in the general election.

It appears the #NeverClinton movement among Democrats in Trump's favor is much stronger than the #NeverTrump movement among Republicans in Clinton's direction.