Democrats & Liberals Archives

Faith-Based Reality

There’s an interesting group, the Program on International Policy Attitudes run out of the University of Maryland, which studies public perception of political issues. Their latest poll shows the majority of Bush supporters are residents of President Bush’s fantasy world of spin.

For example, their latest poll shows that,

  • A large majority of Bush supporters believe that shortly before the war Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or a major program for building them.
  • A substantial majority of Bush supporters assume that most experts believe Iraq had WMD and that this was the conclusion of the recently released report by Charles Duelfer.
  • A large majority of Bush supporters believes that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda and that clear evidence of this support has been found.
  • A large majority believes that most experts also have this view, and a substantial majority believe that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission.

If you believe any of those things, brace yourself: None of it is true. But why, after all the evidence to the contrary, would anyone still believe that? Perhaps because,

Large majorities of Bush and Kerry supporters agree that the Bush administration is saying that Iraq had WMD and was providing substantial support to al Qaeda. In regard to WMD, these majorities are growing.

Of course it’s not quite that simple or nefarious,

Another key reason why Bush supporters may hold to the beliefs that Iraq had WMD and supported al Qaeda is that it is necessary to their support for the decision to go to war with Iraq. Eighty-five percent of Bush supporters say that going to war was the right decision.

However, asked what the US should have done “If, before the war, US intelligence services had concluded that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction and was not providing substantial support to al Qaeda,” 58% of Bush supporters said in that case the US should not have gone to war. Furthermore, 61% express confidence that in that case the President would not have gone to war.

To preserve the belief that that going to war was the right decision, it appears necessary for Bush supporters to believe that the assumptions that prompted going to war were correct.

And I had to chuckle over Bush supporter’s perception of foreigner’s opinions,

  • Only three in ten Bush supporters believe that the majority of people in the world oppose the US going to war with Iraq.
  • A majority of Bush supporters assume that the majority of people in the world would like to see Bush reelected.
  • Bush supporters also lean toward overestimating support in Islamic countries for US-led efforts to fight terrorism.

Again, none of that is true.

There’s another related poll showing the same kind of isolation from reality for Bush supporters on other foreign policy issues as well,

Majorities of Bush supporters incorrectly assumed that Bush favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements (84%), and the US being part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the International Criminal Court (66%), the treaty banning land mines (72%), and the Kyoto Treaty on global warming (51%).

Bush supporters also, themselves, favored some of the positions that they attributed to Bush. Majorities of Bush supporters favored including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements (93%), and the US being part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (68%), the International Criminal Court (75%), the treaty banning land mines (66%), and the Kyoto treaty on climate change (54%).

I was twigged to these surveys by an article in my local paper. The reporter, Janadas Devan – an excellent Singaporean editorialist on US politics, ended his article,

One reason why this year's presidential race has become so bitter is that Bush supporters and Kerry supporters have 'profoundly different perceptions of reality'. One commentator has called it a divide between a 'faith-based community' and a 'reality-based community'.

Whatever it is, one thing is clear: When an electorate can't even agree on a common set of facts, it is unlikely to agree to disagree no matter who wins the election next week.


Posted by American Pundit at October 29, 2004 3:57 AM