Polling on Cordoba House

Given public opinion on the proposed Islamic community center that is currently cominating the news, we would expect that opposition to the project would be strongest in Manhattan itself.

As we likely know, public national public opinion is against the construction of an Islamic community center two blocks from where the WTC once stood.

Via CNN: Overwhelming majority oppose mosque near Ground Zero

According to the new survey out Wednesday, nearly 70 percent of all Americans oppose the controversial plan to build the mosque just blocks away from the solemn site in lower Manhattan while just 29 percent favor the construction.

That poll was released August 11.  On August 10, the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion published a poll of New Yorkers [PDF] that included questions about the proposed Islamic community center that has been in the news of late.

According to that poll, a majority of New York City dwellers oppose the project:  53% oppose and 34% favor with 13% being unsure.

It is interesting that as one gets closer to the project, opposition lessens.  Indeed, if one looks within the Marist poll to the breakdown of opinion by borough we find that not only does opposition lessen, support moves into majority public opinion when we get to Manhattan.  If we look at the table below, the one borough of NYC that supports the project is the borough where the building will be built (as well as the borough that directly suffered the attacks of 9/11).  According to the table 53% of the registered voters polled in Manhattan favor the project, 31% oppose it and 16% are unsure.

If the one of the pillars of the argument against the project in question is that it is directly offensive to the survivors and victims of 9/11, wouldn’t the largest amount of opposition be emanating from the place that was attacked?  If anyone is going to see the former Burlington Coat Factory at the center of this controversy to be “hallowed ground” wouldn’t it be the people of Manhattan?

At a minimum, it is curious that the farther away one goes from the locus of the debate that opposition grows.  To summarize:

Manhattan:  53% in favor.

NYC:  53% opposed

The US:  ~70% opposed.

Of course, a major part of the problem is that a lot of people think that a mosque is being build on the remains of the WTC rather than a community center being built in a dense urban neighborhood.

Since a lot of people are predicating their argument on issues of sensitivity to victims of the attack, this information strikes me as potentially quite useful.  Really, shouldn’t the most offended be Manhattanites?  And if that is not the case (and these number indicate that it is not) does that not undercut the “insensitivity” argument?

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FILED UNDER: Islam, Religion, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Herb says:

    It has been so interesting how this issue has been argued. The folks pointing at the polls are just looking for back-up. I don’t believe for one second that they truly believe that “who should build what where” should be determined by a poll.

  2. reid says:

    Steven, your intolerance of the ignorant and bigoted is appalling. Can’t you just let them win? I mean, 70%, will of the people, come on!

  3. Billy says:

    Also potentially important to this poll, the answers are a binary “favor” vs. “oppose.” I ignore the “unsure” response because it is an unsatisfactory alternative.

    What of those of us who are exactly sure of our opinion on the issue, but really couldn’t care less where they build a mosque? I neither favor nor oppose this. Am I in the 70%?

  4. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    What is it about bloggers on this site? You somehow have the idea you know better than the rest of us what is right and what is wrong. I, and most of the folks who comment on blogs do not think Cordoba house is on a piece of property which was part of the WTC. For as long as this has been an issue, on every media outlet, it has been stated the wish to build a monument to the destruction of the WTC would be located only as close as possible. The take this is a monument is my take on what has been Islamic tradition. I wonder why you think you have the position of edification of the readership? Experience is a far greater teacher than what passes for formal education these days.

  5. This is one of those issue where, quite honestly, public opinion doesn’t really matter to me. This isn’t about doing what the majority wants, it’s about doing what’s right and what’s right in this case is to follow the law.

  6. floyd says:

    What percentage of “New York City dwellers” are Americans?

  7. Steve Plunk says:

    I would expect those who lost loved ones to be the most upset. Where’s the empathy for them? Doesn’t the Cordoba House have any sympathy or tolerance for them? Are the backers culturally tone deaf to the point they don’t understand the opposition?

  8. This is one of those issue where, quite honestly, public opinion doesn’t really matter to me. This isn’t about doing what the majority wants, it’s about doing what’s right and what’s right in this case is to follow the la

    I concur. I just find this particular bit of data to be rather interesting as it undercuts a supposed main argument against the project, i.e., that it is insensitive to the neighborhood.

    What percentage of “New York City dwellers” are Americans

    It was a poll of registered voters.

  9. Zels:

    I wonder why you think you have the position of edification of the readership?

    Including, oddly enough, you. Since you comment on practically every post that Doug or I write it does beg the question as to why you read what we write. I find it curious and tad amusing.

  10. Embir says:

    I agree with Billy. I’m not “in favor” of this but I’ll support their right to build it without a qualm. Unsure does not fit my stand. But then I tend to take arguments about whose imaginary friend is a more powerful/appropriate/American deity with more than a few grains of salt.

  11. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    This is not about law, Doug. No one says they do not have the right to do it. No one. What part of that is difficult for you? It is wrong to do it for the same reason it would be wrong to build a German memorial at Triblinka or any other death camp. The Germans today are not responsible for the Nazi acts and they might have the legal right to do it. Just like Disney could buy and own property next to the battlefield at Gettysburg yet it would be wrong to build an amusement park close to that site. It was Muslims who flew planes into the towers at the WTC. No one is blaming all Muslims or at least not a majority of people but the Imam of this project does feel and so stated the U.S., by our foreign policy was responsible for the terrorist acts of 9/11. I believe you are dense enough you would defend someones right to yell fire in a theater. WTF is wrong with you? Americans, innocent men, women and children were killed on 9/11 by Muslim terrorist and Muslims want to build a Islamic center two block away from the hole in the ground that still exists. And you are infavor of that? There is no reasoning with people like you.

  12. reid says:

    Steve Plunk: There’s no rational basis for 9/11 families or anyone else to be upset about this building being built where it is. If they’re upset because they associate all muslims with the 9/11 hijackers or terrorists, or they just don’t like muslims, then they get no sympathy from me. Should we outlaw all mosques in the USA (as some rightwing extremists have called for) because they offend a few nuts?

  13. Jay Dubbs says:

    Zels says:

    “I believe you are dense enough you would defend someones right to yell fire in a theater.”

    Well, if the theatre was on fire, then someone should yell

  14. Jay Dubbs says:

    Zels says:

    “I believe you are dense enough you would defend someones right to yell fire in a theater.”

    Well, if the theater was on fire, then someone should yell.

  15. Herb says:

    “I would expect those who lost loved ones to be the most upset. Where’s the empathy for them?”

    Empathy? What are you, Steve, an Obama voter?

  16. Brummagem Joe says:

    This obsession with polls as the “voice of the people” is laughable. If Lincoln had polled the nation do you think he’d have got a majority for the abolition of slavery? Or how about Truman polling the military in 1948 on desegregation?. After all la populace has such a history getting it right. Prohibition. And that other doozy when they didn’t think wars in Europe in 1940/41 had anything to do with Americans. The fact is “the people” are ill informed, obtuse, bigoted, disinterested, over emotional and irrational most of the time.

  17. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Then Jay, all that would be required would be the lighting of a match, hence the fire. Jay, are you related to Lee Ward over at Wizbang?

  18. Steve Plunk says:

    reid, Rational or not those people are upset and I see no reason to not be sensitive to them. If we can’t decorate city hall at Christmas for fear of upsetting someone’s sensitivities why are we not concerned about sensitivities in this case?

    No one (no reasonable people) is calling for all mosques to be outlawed and the first amendment protects them. Reductio ad absurdum.

    herb, Obama voter? Didn’t you now conservatives are the most empathetic people?

  19. Herb says:

    “There is no reasoning with people like you.”

    You say this like there’s going to be some reasoning with you, Zels….

    Exhibit A:
    “Americans, innocent men, women and children were killed on 9/11 by Muslim terrorist and Muslims want to build a Islamic center two block away from the hole in the ground that still exists”

    You do realize that the Muslims who attacked us on 9/11 are not the same ones who are building the Cordoba House, right? Is that distinction lost on you? Can you tell the difference?

  20. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    BG, you might be correct in that goverment does not always follow the will of the majority however I question the wisdom of doing so a few months away from a midterm election. Actually, I am enjoying the Democrats and you idiotic progressives shoot themselves in both feet. The electorate will make changes that will reflect the will of the people which is where the power in this country comes from. The current group of leftist hid their agenda well, until they had the Presidency and majorities in both houses of congress. Well, dude the cat is out of the bag, This is not what America is all about. I suggest the left be very very careful. The next time the Tea Partiers come to Washington, they might not be so peaceful. Government will carry out the will of the people or we will change the goverment.

  21. reid says:

    SP: You’re mixing two different issues, comparing this to Christmas decorations at town hall.

    Who are “those people” you’re referring to? How many people are we really talking about? What are their reasons for being upset? Do they correctly understand the issue? There has been so much ugly political spin from the right over this that I wonder if people know the facts. But I stand by my position: If the people who are upset know that it’s a community center and that it’s .5 mile away, and their reasons boil down to anti-muslim fear or anger, then we can discount their precious feelings. I’d like to hear other, valid reasons for being upset.

  22. Herb says:

    Steve,

    I’m smelling a disingenuous stench coming from your direction.

    “If we can’t decorate city hall at Christmas for fear of upsetting someone’s sensitivities why are we not concerned about sensitivities in this case?”

    C’mon….why make an argument you don’t even believe?

    “No one (no reasonable people) is calling for all mosques to be outlawed and the first amendment protects them.”

    No, these supposedly “reasonable people” just want to get in other people’s business. Unfortunately, we already have a process that separates the “everyone’s got an opinion” crowd from the stake-holders and it doesn’t have anything to do with empathy or public opinion.

  23. Herb says:

    “The next time the Tea Partiers come to Washington, they might not be so peaceful. Government will carry out the will of the people or we will change the goverment.”

    You cry about the terrorist attack on NYC and then threaten Washington? Pick a side already, dude.

  24. mantis says:

    Rational or not those people are upset and I see no reason to not be sensitive to them.

    The Constitution is apparently not a good enough reason.

    If we can’t decorate city hall at Christmas for fear of upsetting someone’s sensitivities why are we not concerned about sensitivities in this case?

    The government is not permitted to endorse, or prohibit, and particular religion, per the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. These issues are one and the same. I find it endlessly amusing that so-called “conservatives” get into high dudgeon over government not explicitly endorsing Christianity for the holidays, or planting the ten commandments at city hall, or whatever other Christian agenda they wish to push, but when it comes to another religion purchasing some private property for their own use, all of a sudden these “conservatives” want the government to prevent it.

    When will you people understand? The government of the United States should not be in the business of promoting your religion or punishing others’. Both are unconstitutional. Would you be ok with your local government putting up decorations and celebrating Eid al-Fitr? How about if they blocked a Christian church from purchasing private land? If your answers are any different than your responses to Christmas at City Hall or the Cordoba House purchase, well, maybe another review of the Constitution is in order, not that it will sink in.

    No one (no reasonable people) is calling for all mosques to be outlawed and the first amendment protects them.

    No, just this one building. Oh, and that one. And that one over there. Wait, is that a minaret over there?

  25. Once again, will OTB please ban ZRIII? His bigoted comments never add anything to the conversation and I don’t see why the serious readers of this site should be required to endure his constant verbal abuse.

  26. PD Shaw says:

    I think that’s a poor poll, or I think it should have made the Obama distinction between whether it’s a good idea in general and whether some affirmative steps should be taken by the government to stop it. I tend to think marginally this is a bad idea, partly because an Imam that describes U.S. policy as an accessory to the crime of 9-11, is likely to use the new mosque as a platform to make similar statements in the future.

    The government shouldn’t do anything; Obama probably shouldn’t have said anything either.

  27. Brummagem Joe says:

    Stormy Dragon says:
    Tuesday, August 17, 2010 at 19:48
    “Once again, will OTB please ban ZRIII?”

    He’s not without a certain entertainment value as long as you avoid the cardinal error of responding. In many ways he is how the base of the Republican party think these days. This is where I believe center right conservatives like Jim and Doug have misjudged the situation. They think today’s GOP has just got blown off course a bit and is basically amenable to reason. Unfortunately, I do not believe this to be the case. ZR and those who think like him are completely in the ascendant. How else to explain that nitwits like Palin or charlatans like Gingrich are regarded as serious Republican candidates for the presidency.

  28. Steve Plunk says:

    reid & herb,

    We’re talking about sensitivity to people’s feelings. On one hand the Left demands it when certain groups get their feeling hurts like with the decorations and now I’m pointing out there are an awfully lot of widows and orphans who are getting their feelings hurt over this. Are those opposed to Christian decorations being bigots? Are those widows being bigots? Do you see the point?

    mantis,

    I believe most in opposition aren’t looking for government intervention as they understand the constitutional protections. The constitution does not prohibit the exercise of free speech against this center or the use of public opinion to convince the backers to choose another location. Your argument is a straw man.

    stormy,

    If I must endure the liberal rants then the liberals must listen to ZRIII. I agree with much of what he says and if he actually said something all that offensive I haven’t seen it. Please quote if you have. I have lived through personal attacks and name calling without ever asking for anyone to be banned. Our hosts know what they are doing.

  29. sam says:

    @Steve on Zels

    “Since you [Zels] comment on practically every post that Doug or I write it does beg the question as to why you read what we write”

    Read? My guess –as I suggested a while back — is that Zelsdorf is a Turing Machine wired to Glen Beck’s ass. That would account for the dumb, right?

  30. James Joyner says:

    Just like Disney could buy and own property next to the battlefield at Gettysburg yet it would be wrong to build an amusement park close to that site.

    Have you actually been to Gettysburg? It’s basically a tacky tourist shop with a battlefield in the middle.

  31. PD Shaw says:

    “Once again, will OTB please ban ZRIII?”

    Nope. Joyner just made him commentor of the day.

  32. This Guy says:

    Manhattan makes up about 21% of the adult pop of NYC, so in this sample of 969 reg voters even if Manhattan votes make up 25% of the sample, that is still only 174 interviews and the Margin of Error is +/- 7.4.

    That there is more support than in other boroughs is clear, that there is a majority support is not necessarily true.

  33. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Have you actually been to Gettysburg? It’s basically a tacky tourist shop with a battlefield in the middle.”

    It’s an American entertainment location. What else do you expect. You can actually walk the battlefield and soon move out of it’s more tacky environs.

  34. Herb says:

    “We’re talking about sensitivity to people’s feelings. On one hand the Left demands it when certain groups get their feeling hurts like with the decorations and now I’m pointing out there are an awfully lot of widows and orphans who are getting their feelings hurt over this. Are those opposed to Christian decorations being bigots? Are those widows being bigots? Do you see the point?”

    Oh, so it’s just another round of “I know you are, but what am I?” Lame.

    You don’t seem to get the stakeholder argument, which correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t exactly a Leftist argument. It goes like this.

    Non-Christians can get upset about Christmas decorations on public buildings because, as citizens, they have a stake in that building that is equal to Christians (not less, equal). Stores can hang Happy Holidays signs up instead of Merry Christmas signs because they have a stake in what hangs on their awnings.

    On the same token, the widows and children with hurt feelings over the Cordoba House project a) don’t own the property, b) don’t own even an interest in the property, c) don’t have a stake in what another group does with it.

    Do you see how this works? If you’re a stakeholder in something you get a say. If you’re not, you don’t.

    Maybe you can explain why you think non-stakeholders’ opinions count and stakeholders’ opinions don’t.

  35. I agree with much of what he says and if he actually said something all that offensive I haven’t seen it. Please quote if you have.

    From just the past week:

    You kind of remind me of a dog I once owned. He liked to roll in shit.

    Those thugs were all Muslims. Every terrorist attack around the world is the work of Muslims. You simply cannot be that stupid to not recognize that.

    I hope Doug, you and yours can be present at the next expression of Islamic tolerance when it goes off.

    Then there was also this quote, which is apparently so bad the editors had to redact most of it.

  36. reid says:

    SP: “Are those widows being bigots?”

    Good question; are they? What is their explanation for why they (whoever and how many “they” are) are upset about this? All I’ve seen is references to people being upset and offended, but I’d like to see someone do some soul-searching and explain why they’re offended. I can’t imagine it’d be pretty.

  37. anjin-san says:

    Interesting that the right, for so long contemptuous of touchy-feeley politics, suddenly feels that the sensibilities of 9.11 victims families should trump the constitution.

    I have 2 friends who both lost their only child in the last 2 years under horribly tragic circumstances. Their worlds were shattered, their lives will never be the same. My compassion for them knows no bounds.

    On the other hand, I am not advocating that day care centers be banned near their homes because they might see a happy parent with their child and be reminded of their tragedy. The world does not work that way.

  38. - says:

    “I would expect those who lost loved ones to be the most upset.”
    Including those who were/are muslim?

    “undercuts a supposed main argument against the project, i.e., that it is insensitive to the neighborhood.”
    “funny” how right wankers become touchy-feely hopey-changey bleatingheart palinbots when rushbo et al tell them too.

    “would be wrong to build a German memorial at Triblinka or any other death camp.”
    *nazi* memorial, i agree woulbe obviously wrong, but what about a german resistance memorial? wrong or right?
    “The Germans today are not responsible for the Nazi acts and they might have the legal right to do it.”
    And the majority retain an “allergy” to blatant nazism. So, any sort of memorial would be antinazi/anti-deathcamp.

  39. - says:

    “the Imam of this project does feel and so stated the U.S., by our foreign policy was responsible for the terrorist acts of 9/11”
    OK, that is (or would be) sh%t. Got any links? Certainly, the Imam is not osama/taliban, but I’d expect various anti-osama statements through the years. (much as I’d expect Marion Robertson to keep his death “predictions” to himself.)
    maybe glennbeck et al talkdroids should converse personally with this Imam?

    “Should we outlaw all mosques in the USA (as some rightwing extremists have called for) because they offend a few nuts?”
    and similar question regarding non-islam religions that happen to be claimed by non-jihad lunatics (IOW, does self-labeled “christian” fred phelps disqualify all self-labeled christian projects?)

  40. - says:

    “reid, Rational or not those people are upset and I see no reason to not be sensitive to them. If we can’t decorate city hall at Christmas for fear of upsetting someone’s sensitivities why are we not concerned about sensitivities in this case? No one (no reasonable people) is calling for all mosques to be outlawed and the first amendment protects them. Reductio ad absurdum”
    Religious ornamentation on public sites (other than within historic artifact facilities) is offtopic. Is anyone stopping any religion from holiday decorating PRIVATE property (whether or not is “near” a thematically-related “sensitive” site)? In contrast, decorating government property with religous memorabilia/propaganda is an establishment issue.

  41. - says:

    my own post needs 2 fixes: “maybe glennbeck et al talkdroids should converse personally with this Imam?”
    1. better word choice: glennbeck/droids… converse *privately* with this Imam.
    2. However, considering the droids’ obsession with their careers, I now realize even a private conversation would be unproductive. A rightwing non-droid would be better choice to converse with a cordoba/park51 representative.

  42. Liandro says:

    Very valid observation. It is, after all, their neighborhood and their community. Granted, 9/11 was a nationally significant event, and the nation should weigh in, but raising the point that the locals don’t feel as negatively about the project is something worth noting. Perhaps things have gotten lost in the partisan speech.

  43. sam says:

    @says

    “the Imam of this project does feel and so stated the U.S., by our foreign policy was responsible for the terrorist acts of 9/11″

    OK, that is (or would be) sh%t. Got any links?”

    That traces back to a 60 Minutes program in which Ed Bradley interviewed a number of Muslim leaders in the aftermath of 9/11. You can see a full transcript at http://www.islamfortoday.com/60minutes.htm. Here is what the imam said:

    “Bradley: And throughout the Muslim world, there is also strong opposition to America’s foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East because of its support of Israel and economic sanctions against Iraq.

    “Faisal: it is a reaction against the US government politically, where we espouse principles of democracy and human rights, and where we ally ourselves with oppressive regimes in many of these countries.

    “Bradley: Are you in any way suggesting that we in the United States deserved what happened?

    “Faisal: I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but united states policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.

    “Bradley: You say that we’re an accessory? How?

    “Faisal: Because we have been accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.”

    Now, I think he put in an infelicitous and controversial way what is, for many, many people, a completely noncontroversial point: Our support for repressive regimes in the Middle East, our support for Israel, our large military presence via our bases there, all go to create enmity in that part of the world. As for Osama being a creation of the United States, a case can be made that in a material sense, he’s right about that.. Of course, a countercase can be made, too. See this wiki page, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA-Osama_bin_Laden_controversy, for links to the various opposing points of view. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that the imam was not saying anything that others would not say later and much more expansively.

  44. Steve Plunk says:

    stormy, I do find the first statement in poor taste but not worth banning. The other statements are valid opinions that ZRIII has a right to express. Should your intolerance of his views get him banned? No.

  45. He has a right to express them. He should also be ostracized from decent society for them. Openly wishing for the violent death of people merely for disagreeing with you is not the sort of behavior that should be tolerated.

  46. Adam says:

    This assertion

    It is interesting that as one gets closer to the project, opposition lessens. Indeed, if one looks within the Marist poll to the breakdown of opinion by borough we find that not only does opposition lessen, support moves into majority public opinion when we get to Manhattan.

    demonstrates that you aren’t too good at reading either numbers or maps, or else you’re simply dishonest.

    First, here are the numbers from the poll you base your argument upon:

    Percent opposed to Cordoba House among all registered voters in the US: 53
    Percent opposed to Cordoba House in
    Bronx: 53
    Brooklyn: 61
    Staten Island/Queens: 60
    Manhattan: 31

    Regarding arithmetic, the numbers you yourself cite clearly show that Manhattan is the ONLY NYC borough in which opposition to the project is lower than it is in the nation as a whole. You can only make your claim about “NYC” as a whole by aggregating these data.

    Regarding geography, a quick glance at a map should be sufficient for you to see that a good part of the population of the non-Manhattan boroughs is closer to Ground Zero than is a good part of the population of Manhattan. Manhattan, as you really ought to know, is a long, narrow island with the WTC site at its southernmost reaches. Only the Bronx is unambiguously further from Ground Zero than “Manhattan.”

    It’s probably expecting too much for you to try to find out how many NYC firefighters and cops live in Manhattan vs. Staten Island, Queens, and Brooklyn.