Political Behavior

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 1035–1072 | Cite as

A Change of Heart? Why Individual-Level Public Opinion Shifted Against Trump’s “Muslim Ban”

  • Loren Collingwood
  • Nazita LajevardiEmail author
  • Kassra A. R. Oskooii
Original Paper


Public opinion research suggests that rapid and significant individual-level fluctuations in opinions toward various policies is fairly unexpected absent methodological artifacts. While this may generally be the case, some political actions can and do face tremendous backlash, potentially impacting public evaluations. Leveraging broadcast and newspaper transcripts as well as a unique two-wave panel study we demonstrate that a non-random, rapid shift in opinions occurred shortly after President Donald Trump signed executive order 13769 into law, which barred individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days. The ban set off a fury of protests across U.S. cities and airports, garnering tremendous media attention and discussion. Drawing insights from literature on priming, we claim that an influx of new information portraying the “Muslim Ban” at odds with inclusive elements of American identity prompted some citizens to shift their attitudes. Our study highlights the potential broad political effects of mass movements and protests as it pertains to policies that impact racialized minority groups, and suggests that preferences can shift quickly in response to changing political circumstances.


Race and ethnic politics Religion and politics Public opinion Panel data Muslim Americans American identity Protests and demonstrations 


  1. Abrajano, M., & Hajnal, Z. L. (2015). White backlash: Immigration, race, and American politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ashmore, R. D., Jussim, L. J., & Wilder, D. (2001). Social identity, intergroup conflict, and conflict reduction (Vol. 3). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Barreto, M. A., Manzano, S., Ramirez, R., & Rim, K. (2009). Mobilization participation, and solidaridad: Latino participation in the 2006 immigration protest rallies. Urban Affairs Review, 44(5), 736–764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barreto, M. A., & Woods, N. D. (2005). The anti-Latino political context and its impact on GOP detachment and increasing Latino voter turnout in Los Angeles County. Diversity in Democracy: Minority Representation in the United States, 98, 148–169.Google Scholar
  5. Berinsky, A. J. (2009). In time of war: Understanding American public opinion from World War II to Iraq. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berinsky, A. J., Huber, G. A., & Lenz, G. S. (2012). Evaluating online labor markets for experimental research:’s Mechanical Turk. Political Analysis, 20(3), 351–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bishin, B. G., Hayes, T. J., Incantalupo, M. B., & Smith, C. A. (2016). Opinion backlash and public attitudes: Are political advances in gay rights counterproductive? American Journal of Political Science, 60(3), 625–648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Branton, R., Martinez-Ebers, V., Carey, T. E., & Matsubayashi, T. (2015). Social protest and policy attitudes: The case of the 2006 immigrant rallies. American Journal of Political Science, 59(2), 390–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Broockman, D., & Kalla, Joshua. (2016). Durably reducing transphobia: A field experiment on door-to-door canvassing. Science, 352(6282), 220–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Calfano, B. R., Lajevardi, N., & Michelson, M. R. (2017). Trumped up challenges: Limitations, opportunities, and the future of political research on Muslim Americans. Politics, Groups, and Identities, 5, 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cho, W. K. T., Gimpel, J. G., & Wu, T. (2006). Clarifying the role of SES in political participation: Policy threat and Arab American mobilization. Journal of Politics, 68(4), 977–991.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Citrin, J., Duff, B. (1998). Alternative symbolic meanings of American national identity. In Annual Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology Montreal.Google Scholar
  13. Citrin, J., Reingold, B., & Green, D. P. (1990). American identity and the politics of ethnic change. The Journal of Politics, 52(4), 1124–1154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Citrin, J., Wong, C., & Duff, B. (2001). The meaning of American national identity. Social Identity, Intergroup Conflict, and Conflict Reduction, 3, 71.Google Scholar
  15. Cohen, G. L. (2003). Party over policy: The dominating impact of group influence on political beliefs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(5), 808.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cohen-Marks, M., Nuño, A., & Sanchez, G. R. (2009). Look back in anger? Voter opinions of Mexican immigrants in the aftermath of the 2006 immigration demonstrations. Urban Affairs Review, 44(5), 695–717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Converse, P. E. (1964). The nature of belief systems in mass publics. In D. Apter (Ed.), Ideology and discontent. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  18. Craney, T. A., & Surles, J. G. (2002). Model-dependent variance inflation factor cutoff values. Quality Engineering, 14(3), 391–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dana, K., Barreto, M. A., & Oskooii, K. A. R. (2011). Mosques as American institutions: Mosque attendance, religiosity and integration into the political system among American Muslims. Religions, 2(4), 504–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dana, K., Lajevardi, N., Oskooii, K., & Walker, H. (2018). Veiled politics: Experiences with discrimination among Muslim Americans. Politics and Religion, Revise and Resubmit.Google Scholar
  21. Dana, K., Wilcox-Archuleta, B., & Barreto, M. (2017). The political incorporation of Muslims in the United States: The mobilizing role of religiosity in Islam. Journal of Race, Ethnicity and Politics, 22, 1–3.Google Scholar
  22. Davis, D. W. (2007). Negative liberty: Public opinion and the terrorist attacks on America. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  23. Davis, D. W., & Silver, B. D. (2004). Civil liberties vs. security: Public opinion in the context of the terrorist attacks on America. American Journal of Political Science, 48(1), 28–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dawson, M. C. (2003). Black visions: The roots of contemporary African–American political ideologies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  25. Espenshade, T. J., & Calhoun, C. A. (1993). An analysis of public opinion toward undocumented immigration. Population Research and Policy Review, 12(3), 189–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Feldman, S. (1988). Structure and consistency in public opinion: The role of core beliefs and values. American Journal of Political Science, 32, 416–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (2013). Social cognition: From brains to culture. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fogel, R. W. (2000). The fourth great awakening and the future of egalitarianism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  29. Frendreis, J., & Tatalovich, R. (1997). Who supports English-only language laws? Evidence from the 1992 National Election Study. Social Science Quarterly, 78, 354–368.Google Scholar
  30. Gartner, S. S., & Segura, G. M. (1998). War, casualties, and public opinion. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 42(3), 278–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gilens, M. (1996). Race coding and white opposition to welfare. American Political Science Review, 90(3), 593–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Graber, D. A., & Dunaway, J. (2014). Mass media and American politics. Washington, DC: CQ Press.Google Scholar
  33. Gustavsson, G. (2017). National attachment–cohesive, divisive or both?: The divergent links to solidarity from national identity, national pride, and national chauvinism. In Liberal Nationalism and its Critics: Normative and Empirical Questions, June 20–21 2017.Google Scholar
  34. Haddad, Y. Y. (2007). The post-9/11 hijab as icon. Sociology of Religion, 68(3), 253–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hornik, K., & Grün, B. (2011). Topicmodels: An R package for fitting topic models. Journal of Statistical Software, 40(13), 1–30.Google Scholar
  36. Huddy, L. (2001). From social to political identity: A critical examination of social identity theory. Political Psychology, 22(1), 127–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Huddy., L. (2015). Group identity and political cohesion. In Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: An Interdisciplinary, S, and Linkable Resource.Google Scholar
  38. Huddy, L., & Khatib, Nadia. (2007). American patriotism, national identity, and political involvement. American Journal of Political Science, 51(1), 63–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Huddy, L., & Sears, D. O. (1995). Opposition to bilingual education: Prejudice or the defense of realistic interests? Social Psychology Quterly, 58, 133–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Huff, C., & Tingley, D. (2015). Who are these people? Evaluating the demographic characteristics and political preferences of MTurk survey respondents. Research & Politics. Scholar
  41. Iyengar, S., & Kinder, D. R. (1987). News that matters: Television and American opinion. University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  42. Jamieson, K. H., & Waldman, P. (2002). The press effect: Politicians, journalists, and the stories that shape the political world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Jones-Correa, M., Wallace, S. J., & Zepeda-Millán, C. (2016). The impact of large-scale collective action on Latino perceptions of commonality and competition with African Americans. Social Science Quarterly, 97(2), 458–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kalkan, K. O., Layman, G. C., & Uslaner, E. M. (2009). “Bands of others”? Attitudes toward Muslims in contemporary American society. The Journal of Politics, 71(3), 847–862.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kam, C. D., & Kinder, D. R. (2012). Ethnocentrism as a short-term force in the 2008 American presidential election. American Journal of Political Science, 56(2), 326–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Karp, J. (1998). The influence of elite endorsements in initiative campaigns. Citizens as Legislators, 3, 149–165.Google Scholar
  47. Kinder, D. R., & Kam, C. D. (2010). Us against them: Ethnocentric foundations of American opinion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  48. Krosnick, J. A., & Brannon, L. A. (1993). The impact of the gulf war on the ingredients of presidential evaluations: Multidimensional effects of political involvement. American Political Science Review, 87(4), 963–975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Krosnick, J. A., & Kinder, D. R. (1990). Altering the foundations of support for the president through priming. American Political Science Review, 84(2), 497–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Krosnick, J. A., & Petty, R. E. (1995). Attitude strength: An overview. Attitude Strength: Antecedents and Consequences, 1, 1–24.Google Scholar
  51. Lajevardi, L. (2017). A comprehensive study of Muslim American discrimination by legislators, the media, and the masses. Doctoral Dissertation, University of California, San Diego.Google Scholar
  52. Lajevardi, N., & Abrajano, M. (2017). How negative sentiment towards Muslim Americans predicts support for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. The Journal of Politics, Revise and Resubmit.Google Scholar
  53. Lajevardi, N., & Oskooii, K. A. R. (2018). Old-fashioned racism, contemporary islamophobia, and the isolation of Muslim Americans in the age of Trump. Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics, Forthcoming.Google Scholar
  54. Layman, G. C., & Carsey, T. M. (2002). Party polarization and ”conflict extension” in the American electorate. American Journal of Political Science, 46, 786–802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Lee, T. (2002). Mobilizing public opinion: Black insurgency and racial attitudes in the civil rights era. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  56. Lenz, G. S. (2013). Follow the leader?: How voters respond to politicians’ policies and performance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  57. Levendusky, M. (2009). The partisan sort: How liberals became Democrats and conservatives became Republicans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Lupia, A. (1994). Shortcuts versus encyclopedias: Information and voting behavior in california insurance reform elections. American Political Science Review, 88(1), 63–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. McCarty, N., Poole, K. T., & Rosenthal, H. (2016). Polarized America: The dance of ideology and unequal riches. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  60. McClosky, H., & Brill, A. (1993). The dimensions of tolerance: What Americans believe about civil liberties. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  61. McCombs, M. (2014). Setting the agenda: Mass media and public opinion. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  62. McCombs, M. E., & Shaw, D. L. (1972). The agenda-setting function of mass media. Public Opinion Quarterly, 36(2), 176–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Mendelberg, T. (1997). Executing hortons: Racial crime in the 1988 presidential campaign. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 61(1), 134–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Mendelberg, T. (2001). The race card: Campaign strategy, implicit messages, and the norm of equality. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Miller, J. M., & Krosnick, J. A. (2000). News media impact on the ingredients of presidential evaluations: Politically knowledgeable citizens are guided by a trusted source. American Journal of Political Science, 44, 301–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Mummendey, A., Klink, A., & Brown, R. (2001). Nationalism and patriotism: National identification and out-group rejection. British Journal of Social Psychology, 40(2), 159–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Nacos, B. L., & Torres-Reyna, O. (2002). Muslim Americans in the news before and after 9–11. In symposium Restless Searchlight: Terrorism, the Media & Public Life. Harvard University.Google Scholar
  68. Nacos, B. L., & Torres-Reyna, O. (2007). Fueling our fears: Stereotyping, media coverage, and public opinion of Muslim Americans. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  69. Oskooii, K. A. R. (2016). How discrimination impacts sociopolitical behavior: A multidimensional perspective. Political Psychology, 37(5), 613–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Page, B., & Shapiro, R. Y. (1982). Changes in Americans’ policy preferences, 1935–1979. Public Opinion Quarterly, 46(1), 24–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Page, B., & Shapiro, R. Y. (2010). The rational public: Fifty years of trends in Americans’ policy preferences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  72. Pantoja, A. D., Ramirez, R., & Segura, G. M. (2001). Citizens by choice, voters by necessity: Patterns in political mobilization by naturalized Latinos. Political Research Quarterly, 54(4), 729–750.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Poole, K. T., & Rosenthal, H. (1984). The polarization of American politics. The Journal of Politics, 46(4), 1061–1079.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Ramakrishnan, S. K. (2005). Democracy in immigrant America: Changing demographics and political participation. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Redlawsk, D. P. (2002). Hot cognition or cool consideration? Testing the effects of motivated reasoning on political decision making. Journal of Politics64(4), 1021–1044.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Redlawsk, D. P., Civettini, A. J. W., & Emmerson, K. M. (2010). The affective tipping point: Do motivated reasoners ever get it? Political Psychology, 31(4), 563–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Said, E. W. (1978). Orientalism. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  78. Scheufele, D. A., & Tewksbury, D. (2007). Framing, agenda setting, and priming: The evolution of three media effects models. Journal of Communication, 57(1), 9–20.Google Scholar
  79. Schildkraut, D. (2003). American identity and attitudes toward official-English policies. Political Psychology, 24(3), 469–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Schuman, H., Presser, S., & Ludwig, J. (1981). Context effects on survey responses to questions about abortion. Public Opinion Quarterly, 45(2), 216–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Sears, D. O. (1983). The person-positivity bias. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44(2), 233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Sears, D. O. (1993). Symbolic politics: A socio-psychological theory. In S. Iyengar & W. J. McGuire (Eds.), Explorations in political psychology (pp. 113–149). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  83. Sidanius, J., Feshbach, S., Levin, S., & Pratto, F. (1997). The interface between ethnic and national attachment: Ethnic pluralism or ethnic dominance? The Public Opinion Quarterly, 61(1), 102–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Sidanius, J., & Pratto, F. (2001). Social dominance: An intergroup theory of social hierarchy and oppression. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press University Press.Google Scholar
  85. Sides, J., & Gross, K. (2013). Stereotypes of Muslims and support for the war on terror. The Journal of Politics, 75(3), 583–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Smith, R. M. (1988). The “American creed” and American identity: The limits of liberal citizenship in the United States. Western Political Quarterly, 41(2), 225–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Sniderman, P. M., Brody, R. A., & Tetlock, P. E. (1991). The role of heuristics in political reasoning: A theory sketch. In G. Breslauer & T. E. Tetlock (Eds.), Reasoning and choice: Explorations in political psychology. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Sniderman, P. M., Hagendoorn, L., & Prior, M. (2004). Predisposing factors and situational triggers: Exclusionary reactions to immigrant minorities. American Political Science Review, 98(1), 35–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Tesler, M. (2015). Priming predispositions and changing policy positions: An account of when mass opinion is primed or changed. American Journal of Political Science, 59(4), 806–824.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Tourangeau, R., Rips, L. J., & Rasinski, K. (2000). The psychology of survey response. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Transue, J. E. (2007). Identity salience, identity acceptance, and racial policy attitudes: American national identity as a uniting force. American Journal of Political Science51(1), 78-91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Valentino, N. A. (1999). Crime news and the priming of racial attitudes during evaluations of the president. Public Opinion Quarterly, 63, 293–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Valentino, N. A., Hutchings, V. L., & White, I. K. (2002). Cues that matter: How political ads prime racial attitudes during campaigns. American Political Science Review, 96(1), 75–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Verkuyten, M. (2005). Ethnic group identification and group evaluation among minority and majority groups: Testing the multiculturalism hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88(1), 121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Verkuyten, M. (2007). Religious group identification and inter-religious relations: A study among Turkish-Dutch Muslims. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 10(3), 341–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Wallace, S. J., Zepeda-Millán, C., & Jones-Correa, M. (2014). Spatial and temporal proximity: Examining the effects of protests on political attitudes. American Journal of Political Science, 58(2), 433–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Wanta, W., Golan, G., & Lee, Cheolhan. (2004). Agenda setting and international news: Media influence on public perceptions of foreign nations. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 81(2), 364–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Zaller, J. (1992). The nature and origins of mass opinion. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Zepeda-Millán, C. (2016). Weapons of the (not so) weak: Immigrant mass mobilization in the US south. Critical Sociology, 42(2), 269–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Zepeda-Millán, C. (2017). Latino mass mobilization: Immigration, racialization, and activism. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Zepeda-Millán, C., & Wallace, S. J. (2013). Racialization in times of contention: How social movements influence Latino racial identity. Politics, Groups, and Identities, 1(4), 510–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Loren Collingwood
    • 1
  • Nazita Lajevardi
    • 2
    Email author
  • Kassra A. R. Oskooii
    • 3
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaRiversideUSA
  2. 2.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.University of DelawareNewarkUSA

Personalised recommendations