American voters are evenly split between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton as their top choice to address the issue of terrorism following the Paris attacks, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found.
Asked to choose from the entire field of 2016 presidential hopefuls, 20 percent of 1,106 respondents surveyed between Nov. 16-17 opted for Trump. An equal share of the electorate picked Clinton.
Given Clinton's background as a former secretary of state it is perhaps not surprising that she did reasonably well in the poll. However, Trump's good showing upends an emerging narrative that the Paris shootings and suicide bombings would prompt voters to rethink their support for the real estate billionaire, who leads the field of Republican presidential candidates.
See monuments across the globe lit up in solidarity with France:
Monuments red, white, blue, in solidarity for Paris
After Paris, Americans view Trump, Clinton as best able to tackle terrorism - poll
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14: Pedestrians walk in front of the Sydney Opera House as its sails are illuminated in the colours of the French flag on November 14, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 are injured in Paris following a series of terrorist acts in the French capital on Friday. (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14: The London Eye is lit up in the colours of the French flag on November 14, 2015 in London, England. Various landmarks around the globe have been lit in their colours in the wake of the Paris attacks. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower (C), in the Lujiazui Financial District in Pudong, is lit in red, white and blue, resembling the colours of the French flag, in Shanghai on November 14, 2015, as the Chinese expressed their solidarity with France following a spate of coordinated attacks that left 128 dead and 180 injured in Paris late on November 13. The Oriental Pearl tower was bathed in the French flag colours for one hour.
AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
Rome's city hall (Campidoglio) is lighted with France's colors, blue, white and red, on January 8, 2015 in Rome in remembrance of the victims of an attack against Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly which killed 12 people in Paris yesterday. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
The Washington Square Park arch is lit with the French national colors in solidarity with the citizens of France on November 14, 2015 in New York, a day after the Paris terrorist attacks. Islamic State jihadists claimed a series of coordinated attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers in Paris on November 13 that killed at least 129 people in scenes of carnage at a concert hall, restaurants and the national stadium. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
London's National Gallery and the fountains in Trafalgar Square are illuminated in blue, white and red lights, resembling the colours of the French national flag, in London on November 14, 2015, as Britons express their solidarity with France following a spate of coordinated attacks that left 129 dead in Paris on November 13. Islamic State jihadists claimed responsibility for a series of coordinated attacks by suicide bombers and gunmen in Paris that killed at least 128 people at a concert hall, restaurants and the national sports stadium. At least eight militants, all wearing suicide vests, brought unprecedented violence to the streets of the French capital in the worst attacks in Europe since the 2004 Madrid train bombings. The assault also left at least 250 wounded, 100 of them seriously. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
The facade of the Cibeles Palace, Madrid's town hall, is illuminated red, white and blue to represent the French national standard in Madrid on November 14, 2015 in support for victims and families following a series of terror attacks in the French city of Paris and its surroundings that has left at least 120 people dead and some 200 wounded. A spate of co-ordinated attacks left 128 dead and 200 injured in Paris last night, a day after twin bombings in Beirut left 44 dead, and nearly two weeks after IS claimed it downed a Russian jet leaving Egypt, killing 224 on board. in Madrid on November 14, 2015.AFP PHOTO / GERARD JULIEN (Photo credit should read GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bratislava Castle is lit in red, white and blue, the colors of the French flag, in Bratislava on November 14, 2015, as Slovakians express their solidarity with France following the coordinated terrorist attacks that left at least 128 dead and 180 injured in Paris late on November 13. AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEK (Photo credit should read VLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP/Getty Images)
A man shelters from the rain beneath a Union flag-themed umbrella as he photographs London's iconic Tower Bridge, illuminated in blue, white and red lights, resembling the colours of the French national flag, in London on November 14, 2015, as Britons express their solidarity with France following a spate of coordinated attacks that left 128 dead in Paris on November 13. Islamic State jihadists claimed responsibility for a series of coordinated attacks by suicide bombers and gunmen in Paris that killed at least 128 people at a concert hall, restaurants and the national sports stadium. At least eight militants, all wearing suicide vests, brought unprecedented violence to the streets of the French capital in the worst attacks in Europe since the 2004 Madrid train bombings. The assault also left at least 250 wounded, 100 of them seriously. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: The National Gallery is lit in the blue, white and red colours of the national flag of France in tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris on January 11, 2015 in London, England. The terrorist atrocities started on Wednesday with the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12, and ended on Friday with sieges at a printing company in Dammartin en Goele and a Kosher supermarket in Paris with four hostages and three suspects being killed. A fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, escaped and is wanted in connection with the murder of a policewoman. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 14: The Brandenburg Gate is illuminated in the French national colors in tribute for the victims of the 13 November Paris attacks in Berlin, Germany, on November 14, 2015. At least 128 people have been killed and 250 others injured in a series of attacks in Paris on 13 November. (Photo by Erbil Basay/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Some pollsters and political pundits had predicted that Republican voters would now gravitate toward establishment candidates like Florida Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who has been languishing in the polls. Both are seen as stronger on foreign policy than Trump and his main Republican rival, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, neither of whom have any experience in government and are running as Washington outsiders.
Glenn Matlosz, 71, of Audubon, New Jersey, said Trump would be the most able to address terrorism because he's proven to be a straight talker.
"He's telling it as it is," said Matlosz, who describes himself as a Democrat. "He's not mincing any words. There is no gobbledygook there. Everybody else is squawking."
Mirroring national primary polls, Clinton and Trump also took the top marks in the Reuters/Ipsos survey when looking at just voters from their own party. Asked to pick the best Democratic candidate, 52 percent of Democrats polled selected Clinton. When Republicans were asked to choose among their potential nominees, 33 percent said Trump.
After Trump, Republican voters viewed Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee known for his hawkish views, as the strongest candidate (17 percent) to deal with terrorism. Carson was tied with Bush at around 9 percent.
Of the Republicans polled, 36 percent said they now have more confidence in Trump's ability to be president - the largest show of support in the primary field. Only 10 percent said they were less confident in his abilities following the attacks.
Carson and Rubio were also viewed more favorably as potential presidents by Republicans in the poll. Bush, however, got no immediate bump in confidence of his ability to be president. And only 8 percent of Republicans polled thought he would be the best leader to address terrorism.
"LET'S GO BOMB ISIS"
Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said voters respond to candidates they perceive as taking a tough stance and aren't necessarily looking at their biographies.
"Sure, if Colin Powell was running, it would benefit him. Or if David Petraeus was a candidate, it would benefit him," he said, referring to the two retired army generals. "But which of these candidates has an actual plan as opposed to piecemeal tactical solutions or platitudes?" Schmidt said. "So they default to the guy who with the most conviction says, 'I'm going to bomb the shit out of them,' Mr. Donald Trump."
Trump has argued he would take the fight directly to ISIS by bombing oil fields that are occupied by the group. He has opposed bringing Syrian refugees to the United States and argued for building camps where they are already located.
"Everybody else keeps talking about what should've been done and what could've been done, instead of their opinion of what they would do now," said Trump supporter Mildred Borden, 58, of Pennsylvania.
Trump is talking broadly about his approach instead of bogging voters down with details, said Republican strategist John Feehery.
"He's the one who is speaking in the simplest language that is most understandable to the average voter," Feehery said. "He's not talking about 'no-fly' zones. He's not getting into policy. He's talking about, 'Lets go kill ISIS.'"
The poll has a credibility interval of 3.4 percentage points for all voters. When looking at just Democrats or Republicans, the poll has a credibility interval of about 5.4 percentage points.
(Additional reporting by Chris Kahn in New York and Emily Stephenson and Alana Wise in Washington, editing by Ross Colvin)