At first glance, the latest poll from Public Policy Polling is fairly unremarkable. It shows that the GOP race in Iowa is just as close as recent surveys have indicated. Essentially, celebrity billionaire Donald Trump and Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz are running neck-and-neck, with Trump’s supports sitting at 28% to Cruz’s 26%.
However, when you get past the surface, you realize that the Iowa Republicans are an unbelievably ill-informed bunch who spend too much time in the fever swamps of the Conservative Entertainment Complex. According to PPP, only 46% of the state’s GOP voters are aware that Cruz was born in Canada and not in the United States.
In fact, a full 34% of them say with certainty that the Texas lawmaker was popped out within the borders of this country. Meanwhile, because right-wing talk radio has told them this is the case, only 28% believe that the President of the United States was born in this country. Yes. Even though there is undeniable proof that Cruz was born in Alberta, Canada, and he has readily admitted that he was born there, a large chunk of his voting base are completely oblivious to this fact.
Therefore, this really can be a huge issue for Cruz as the caucus approaches. If less than half of the state’s Republican voters actually know the truth, and only 32% of them believe someone born outside of the U.S. should be eligible to run for President, this constitutes a big problem for the conservative firebrand. And explains why Trump is constantly bringing up the subject.
Among Obama birthers and those who can’t stand people who speak Spanish and English (yes, that is a big GOP constituency), Trump is up on Cruz and others. From PPP’s release:
The Obama birther issue is also a major dividing line and gives another prism into the extent to which Trump’s success is being driven by racism. Among people who think Obama was not born in the United States Trump is dominant, getting 38% to 23% for Cruz. But among non-birthers- either people who think Obama was born in the country or aren’t sure, Cruz is leading Trump 29/22. Similarly Trump leads Cruz 37/26 among the 52% of Republican primary voters who are offended by bilingual, but among the 40% who aren’t offended by them Trump is in only third place at 17% behind Cruz’s 26% and Rubio’s 18%. Trump’s success really is built on the support of the most intolerant segment of the GOP base.
Welcome to the Republican primary, where racism, bigotry and xenophobia rule the day, and the only way a brutal government-hating contrarian like Cruz may lose is because he’s seen as too foreign for voters’ tastes.