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Poll: Solid opposition to ban on Muslims entering U.S.

By Anthony Salvanto, Jennifer De Pinto, Sarah Dutton and Fred Backus

Nearly six-in-10 Americans say the United States should not temporarily bar Muslims from other countries from entering the U.S., and two-thirds say such a ban would go against the founding principles of this country, a CBS News poll shows.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump sparked a firestorm when he proposed keeping Muslims from coming in.

There are sharp differences by political party. Just over half of Republicans responding -- 54 percent -- support such a ban, while most Democrats and independents do not.

The survey found mixed views on whether keeping Muslims from entering the U.S would make the country safer from terrorism, but a majority of those who favor such a ban feel it would.

Sixty-seven percent of Americans say the ban would go against the founding principles of this country - majorities across party lines agree on that. However, 53 percent of those who back banning Muslims from entering say such a ban would be in keeping with those principles.

In addition, the public is divided over whether the government should keep a database of Muslims in the U.S. Most Republicans favor it, but a majority of Democrats do not. Independents divide on the database idea.

Most respondents do not see Muslim Americans as more sympathetic to terrorists than other Americans. Those views have not changed much since 2011, when the country marked the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Thirty-eight percent of Americans think the religion of Islam encourages more violence than other religions, down slightly from April 2013, just after the Boston Marathon bombing. Views today are similar to those held in 2011. Americans are more inclined to say Islam encourages the same amount of violence as other religions -- 48 percent said so.

Overall, Americans continue to have net negative views of Islam. Twenty-four percent have at least a somewhat favorable impression of the religion, while slightly more - 29 percent - view it unfavorably. The percentage without an opinion of Islam has increased since last month, soon after the Paris attacks.

Knowing someone who is Muslim impacts views. Some 49 percent of Americans say they know a Muslim or are Muslim themselves. Those who know someone who is Muslim oppose the ban on Muslims entering the U.S. as well as a government database of Muslims.

This poll was conducted by telephone December 9-10, 2015 among a random sample of 1,011 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS by SSRS of Media, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers.

The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables.

The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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