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Donald Trump meets with supporters at a campaign rally on Monday in Las Vegas. (Photo: John Locher/AP)
Donald Trump is riding a wave of anger to the Republican presidential nomination. And according to surveys and exit poll data compiled by the New York Times, there are some unsettling beliefs held by the voters propelling him.
According to a Economist/YouGov national poll conducted in January, nearly 20 percent of Trump’s supporters say they do not approve of the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln’s executive order that freed the slaves in the Southern states during the Civil War.
Of the 2,000 U.S. adults who participated in the poll, 13 percent said they either slightly or strongly disagreed with Lincoln, while 17 percent said they weren’t sure.
The same survey found that a third of Trump’s supporters believe that Japanese-American internment during World War II was a good idea.
According to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted earlier this month, a third of Trump’s supporters in South Carolina say they would “support barring gays and lesbians from entering the country.”
Trump speaks at a campaign event in Virginia Beach on Wednesday. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
The same poll found that 38 percent “wish the South had won the Civil War,” while 70 percent “wish the Confederate battle flag were still flying on their statehouse grounds.”
And though most Republican primary voters in South Carolina (78 percent) disagreed with the idea that whites were a superior race, only 69 percent of the brash billionaire’s backers did, compared with, say, supporters of Ohio Gov. John Kasich (92 percent) or those of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (89 percent).
“Mr. Trump’s popularity with white, working-class voters who are more likely than other Republicans to believe that whites are a supreme race and who long for the Confederacy may make him unpopular among leaders in his party,” Lynn Vavreck, a professor of political science at UCLA, writes in the New York Times. “But it’s worth noting that he isn’t persuading voters to hold these beliefs. The beliefs were there — and have been for some time.”
The deep-seated sentiments of those supporters are, in part, a result of ignorance and poor education — another voting bloc that Trump has successfully exploited.
According to preliminary entrance poll data compiled by CNN, Trump had 57 percent support among those with a high school education or less, 37 points higher than any other candidate.
“We won with young,” Trump said during his victory speech after the Nevada caucuses on Tuesday. “We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.”
At a rally in Las Vegas on the eve of the caucuses Monday, Trump — who graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968 — didn’t exactly sound like a presidential candidate, much less one with an economics degree.
“What the hell is caucus?” he said to laughter. “Nobody even knows what it is. Just vote.”
Trump then told the crowd he wanted to punch a protester who was being escorted from the event in the face.
“There’s a guy, totally disruptive, throwing punches — we’re not allowed to punch back anymore,” he said. “I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out in a stretcher.”
Trump added: “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya.”
After his win in South Carolina, Trump was asked on “Fox News Sunday” if he thought he should “act more presidential.”
“Well, probably I do,” Trump replied. “I mean, I can act as presidential as anybody that’s ever been president other than the great Abraham Lincoln.”
On Thursday, Trump picked up the unofficial endorsement of perhaps the country’s most prominent white supremacist: former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.
“Voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage,” Duke said on his radio show. “I’m not saying I endorse everything about Trump, in fact I haven’t formally endorsed him. But I do support his candidacy, and I support voting for him as a strategic action. I hope he does everything we hope he will do.”
“America, you’re stupid,” Salon’s Sean Illing declared. “Donald Trump’s political triumph makes it official — we’re a nation of idiots.”
One of the writers of “Idiocracy” — a 1996 cult comedy that imagines a dystopian future so dumb that Luke Wilson is the most intelligent person alive — agreed.
“I never expected #idiocracy to become a documentary,” Etan Cohen, who co-wrote the film with Mike Judge, lamented on Twitter. “I thought the worst thing that would come true was everyone wearing Crocs.”