What Trump Supporters Were Doing Before Trump – 538
On social issues, the differences are more noteworthy. Trump backers were far more pro-choice than Cruz or Rubio supporters, at 0.63 (0.67 is equivalent to agreeing that “abortion should be available, but with stricter limits”). That’s not far from Clinton backers’ 0.73. By contrast, Cruz supporters’ 0.39 puts them closer to the view represented by 0.33: “Abortion should not be permitted except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the woman is at risk.” In that light, maybe Trump’s defenses of Planned Parenthood make more sense. Trump supporters were also a bit more supportive of gay marriage than Cruz supporters, although the difference isn’t nearly as pronounced.
Trump has also attracted attention for dissenting from the hawkish foreign policy views that are dominant in the GOP. For instance, he drew ire from GOP foreign policy elites after accusing former President George W. Bush of having lied about weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the Iraq War. On the question of whether to remain in Iraq as of late 2007, Trump supporters scored a 0.62, which is relatively close to the 0.50 position (“The U.S. should set a deadline for withdrawing its troops”). That makes them less favorable toward the Iraq War than Cruz supporters (0.81) and closer to Rubio supporters (0.67). But when asked in late 2008, the future Trump supporters were slightly more likely to call themselves “hawks” than Cruz backers (0.68 versus 0.67), and markedly more likely than Rubio backers (0.52). Rubio presents himself as the most hawkish of the three candidates, but his base of support didn’t describe themselves that way. As political scientist Elizabeth Saunders has noted, 2016 is no exception to the rule: Voters do not seem to be picking their candidates based on their foreign policy views. Foreign policy has been a prominent point of division in the GOP debates, but those divisions don’t seem to be reflected in public support.