Half of America believes Donald Trump’s campaign exhibits fascist undertones, with only 30 percent disagreeing, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. The sentiment isn’t contained to Democrats, who unsurprisingly are willing to agree with a negative statement about their political rivals. Forty-five percent of independents also say Trump’s campaign has echoes of fascism, as do a full 28 percent of Republicans.
About half the country believes Trump encourages violence at his campaign events, with just 34 percent saying he doesn’t. The rest aren’t sure. Meanwhile, 27 percent of Republicans say it’s acceptable to “rough up” protesters at political events.
The survey comes in the wake of dozens of arrests and physical altercations tied to Trump’s campaign rallies, including clashes after an event was canceled in Chicago.
Trump, who once offered to pay his supporters’ legal fees if they “knock the crap out of” potential tomato-throwers, has since sought to downplay the frequency of such problems.
“The press is now going, they’re saying, ‘Oh, but there’s such violence.’ No violence. You know how many people have been hurt at our rallies? I think, like, basically none except maybe somebody got hit once,” the businessman said last week in North Carolina.
Most Americans, though, have a very different impression. Two-thirds say there’s more violence at Trump’s events than at those for other candidates, with 62 percent saying the clashes are part of a broader pattern rather than isolated incidents.
That level of agreement on such a politically charged question is itself unusual. It far outstrips, for example, the fraction of the public that sees a broad pattern of police violence against black men.
It even extends somewhat to the GOP: A 55 percent majority of Republicans consider Trump’s events unusually violent, and 61 percent believe the violent clashes are part of a bigger pattern.
Who’s To Blame?
The data indicates that people generally consider protesters and the media to be most responsible for the uptick in violence, even if they also agree that Trump fans the flames. Fifty-four percent say protesters shoulder “a lot” of the blame, 41 percent say Trump’s supporters do and 47 percent say Trump himself does.
Only 23 percent of Republicans, though, say Trump is largely responsible, with barely one-quarter believing that he encourages violence.
Republicans place even less blame on Trump’s supporters, as just 18 percent say they bear a lot of responsibility. In contrast, half place that level of blame on “the mainstream media,” and 78 percent put that degree of fault on protesters.
While some of the GOP response is likely due to rallying around the party’s front-runner, Republicans are also less amenable toward protesting in general. They’re 20 points less likely than Democrats to say it’s acceptable for protesters to turn up at candidates’ rallies, and nearly twice as likely to say it’s all right for those protesters to be thrown out.
The fact that such violence is continuing to happen — and that it seems to be at least condoned by the Trump campaign — is enough to give pause to much of the public regarding the nature of Trump’s candidacy, the survey finds.
A lot of the talk about Trump’s post-primary prospects revolves around his ability to reverse the overwhelmingly negative impression he’s so far made on most of the country.
In recent speeches, he has previewed some arguments he would make in the general election. Many, like focusing on people left behind by the economy, are relatively moderate, and have the potential to resonate across party lines. Convincing voters that he has the temperament to take office — or, at the very minimum, that he’s not a would-be fascist — may be the tougher sell.