The 2016 presidential race took its ugliest turn yet Monday when GOP frontrunner Donald Trump called for a "total complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" – a proposal that earned him raucous cheers from the Republican crowd at a rally on the USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.
"It's common sense and we have to do it," Trump told his backers. "We have no choice. We have. No. Choice.... We can't live like this. It's gonna get worse and worse; you're gonna have more World Trade Centers."
(You can watch the full video of Trump's address here; the Muslim-bashing begins around minute 50.)
Trump's proposal was denounced by prominent Republican leaders – including former Vice President Dick Cheney, who said it "goes against everything we stand for and believe in.”
But a terrifying new poll from North Carolina underscores the popular appeal of Trump's anti-Islamic bigotry among rank-and-file Republican voters.
The latest Public Policy Polling survey finds that Trump is the frontrunner in North Carolina, backed by a third of GOP voters, double the support for second-place Ted Cruz (16 percent).
According the PPP data and analysis, "Trump's Islamophobia is a central feature of his appeal to his supporters."
Among Trump backers, 67 percent support creating a national database of Muslims, 62 percent believe the discredited story that Arabs in New Jersey cheered as the twin towers fell on 9/11, more than half (51 percent) want to shut down mosques, and a full 44 percent believe Islam should be outlawed.
As shocking as these statistics are, it's vital to note that Trump hasn't cornered the market, politically speaking, on anti-Islamic sentiment.
Among North Carolina Republicans, only a third oppose the idea of a national database of Muslims or oppose government action to shutter mosques. Indeed, only a narrow plurality (41 percent) endorse the notion that Islam should remain legal in the U.S. – and a full 32 percent think one of the world's great religions should be outlawed.