They say they oppose the Park51 "mosque" in lower Manhattan out of "sensitivity for the 9/11 families", although (of course) many of the 9/11 families don't mind or care. So what is the reason for the opposition? Could there be some latent bigtory lurking just below the surface.
We now have clear evidence that there's a direct link between public anti-Islam sentiment and public opposition to the construction of Cordoba House, a.k.a. the "Ground Zero mosque."
The evidence can be found in the internals of the new Washington Post poll on Islam and the planned center, and it was provided to me by Post polling director Jon Cohen. The numbers directly contradict the claim by opponents that public opposition to the project is not linked to broader anti-Islam sentiment, and is only rooted in a desire to be sensitive to 9/11 families or to respect Ground Zero as hallowed ground.
The poll's toplines show that 66 percent of Americans oppose the Islamic center. Separately, a plurality, 49 percent, has generally unfavorable views of Islam.
But it's the intersection of these numbers revealed in the internals that proves the point.
Here's the rub: According to the internals sent my way, opposition to the "Ground Zero mosque" is overwhelmingly driven by those with an unfavorable view of Islam:
* Fifty-five percent of those who have favorable views of the religion say it should be built.
* Meanwhile, among those who have an unfavorable view of Islam, an overwhelming 87 percent say the project shouldn't be built, with 74 percent strongly opposed.
It gets even clearer when you look at the numbers in another way. If you take the 66 percent overall who oppose the project, it turns out that two thirds of those people have generally unfavorable views of Islam, versus only one-third who view Islam favorably.
Clearly, not all opponents of the project feel unfavorably towards Islam. But two-thirds of them do. Does it mean that anti-Islam attitudes are the direct cause of opposition to the project? Impossible to say. But it's overwhelmingly clear that there's a link between the two sentiments, no matter how often opponents tell you the contrary.
Why am I not surprised?