Donald Trump's speech at the Republican National Convention: Best and worst ideas

By Scott Clement

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention. Photo / Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention. Photo / Getty Images

Donald Trump's speech accepting the Republican nomination focused heavily on threats to the country from crime, terrorism and immigrants.

Although it's unclear how Americans at home will react to Trump's speech, some of his core messages might resonate with a public reeling from terrorist attacks and frustrated with the political system. Others, however, are popular among Republicans but lack strong appeal with the broader electorate.

Trump's most popular ideas

America's political and economic system is rigged by special interests: This argument is likely to draw some of the broadest agreement of anything Trump says. Americans widely see special interests - in particularly wealthy Americans and large corporations - as exerting undue power of government and the economy. A 2015 Post-ABC poll found 2 in 3 Americans saying the economic system favors the wealthy, and earlier that year six in 10 said the rich benefit most from federal policies, according to a CBS News poll .

Trade deals take away American jobs: As he has before, Trump condemned the impact of trade deals on the American workforce, and widely held sentiment nationwide. By 53 to 33 percent, more Americans said trade with other countries mainly takes away American jobs than creates jobs, according to a Post-ABC poll this spring. Six in 10 Republicans said trade with other countries mainly takes U.S. jobs away. Despite concerns about job losses, three-quarters of the public in a Post-ABC poll this month poll this month said they want the next president to support trade deals with other countries. Trump has argued he will strike better deals for American workers than previous agreements.

Blocking refugees from war-torn countries: Trump criticized Hillary Clinton's willingness to allow Syrian refugees into the United States, and polling shows the public tends to agree with his position. A Post-ABC poll found 54 percent of Americans opposed allowing Mideast refugees to enter the United States while 43 percent supported doing so. Opposition to allowing refugees rose to 71 percent among Republicans who Trump is seeking to unify with his convention speech.

Addressing Americans' fears of terrorism and crime: Americans are living with a heightened fear of terrorist attacks and crime more broadly, and Trump's speech speaks directly to those fears. Even before recent high-profile shootings in Orlando and of police in Dallas, Gallup found a 53 percent majority saying they worry a "great deal" about crime, up from 39 percent in 2014 to a 15-year high in the firm's surveys. Thinking about terrorism, 53 percent in a June Post-ABC poll said they were "very concerned" about lone-wolf terrorist attacks, with two-thirds saying they lack confidence in the federal government to stop them.

Trump's ideas with middling popularity

Repealing Obamacare: Trump promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a position that receives wide support among Republicans but mixed reviews from the public overall. While less than half of Americans support the law, they also express skepticism toward repealing it entirely. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in June found 44 percent want to repeal the law or scale back what it does, while a similar 45 percent wanted to move forward with the law or even expand it. Eight in 10 Republicans support scaling back or repealing the law.

Gun laws: Trump promised to defend the Second Amendment. A 57 percent majority in a Post-ABC poll released Sunday said they want the next president to support stricter gun-control laws, while 39 percent wanted a president who opposes them. The margin is opposite among Republicans, among whom two-thirds want the next president to oppose stricter gun laws.

But Trump has also mentioned that some recent terrorist acts could have been tempered if people being attacked were also armed. In June , 54 percent supported encouraging more Americans to carry guns legally for use in self-defense.

Reducing immigration: Trump's said violence is "spilling across our border" because of U.S. immigration policies, but Americans do not overwhelmingly support curtailing immigration in general. According to a June 2015 Gallup poll , 4 in 10 Americans want to keep immigration levels at their present level and a quarter want to increase the level of immigration to the United States. Roughly a third (34 percent) agreed with Trump and want to decrease immigration to the United States. Trump focused heavily on dealing with illegal immigration, but also called for halting Muslims from entering the United States and, in Thursday's speech, blocking immigrants from countries "compromised by terrorism."

Trump's least popular ideas

Border wall: Trump's signature proposal to build a wall on the United States' southern border has wide support from Republicans but far less popular with the broader public. A 57 percent majority of registered voters opposed building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border "to try to stop illegal immigration" in a July CBS-New York Times poll . By contrast, 68 percent of Republican voters favor building a wall.

Negative tone toward immigrants generally: Much of what Trump says about immigrants focuses on illegal immigrants and the threat they pose to the country, a view at odds with the way most Americans see immigrants overall. In January, a 55 percent majority said immigrants from other countries mainly strengthen American society while 35 percent say they weaken it. A slight majority of Republicans - 53 percent - said immigrants weaken society. The issue of immigration is central to Trump's campaign and will test whether his successful stances during the Republican primary will be acceptable to the broader electorate.

- Washington Post

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