The nastiness and ignorance that epitomized the campaign of Donald Trump has proven to be stubbornly enduring. Now, as 2016 wraps up, the effect it had on his followers is brought into focus by the results of a new poll. The Economist/YouGov survey (pdf) addressed many of the pressing issues that face the nation. It’s a revealing exploration into the mindset of the electorate. However, the most fascinating (and frightful) revelations are those relating to Trump voters.
Below are some of the more worrisome responses. Let’s start off with what ought to be the most clear cut inquiry by the pollsters:
Is the country better off now than it was eight years ago?
Most Americans recall that eight years ago the nation was descending into an economic abyss. The stock market dropped 46 percent. Unemployment shot up to 10.1 percent. Home foreclosures hit record figures. And total household wealth declined by more than $19 trillion.
Yet somehow a whopping 60 percent of Trump voters responded to this question saying that the country was better off eight years ago than today. Another 19 percent say there is no difference. That’s after stocks climbed back from about 7,000 to nearly 20,000. And unemployment dropped to 4.9 percent. The auto industry that was on the brink of collapse is reporting record profits. And the delusions of the Trumpsters are unique to their breed. Only 21 percent of Democrats thought 2009 was a better year.
Do you think that the proportion of persons without insurance has increased or decreased over the past five years?
This is another question where the answer is an unambiguous fact. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), the rate of the uninsured dropped to its lowest levels in history. It now stands at about 10 percent as more than 20 million people got insurance through ObamaCare.
Nevertheless, only 26 percent of Trump voters correctly said that persons without insurance decreased. And once again, Democrats demonstrated greater knowledge with 49 percent answering correctly.
On the subject of climate change do you think: (A) The world’s climate is changing as a result of human activity; (B) The world’s climate is changing but NOT because of human activity; (C) The world’s climate is NOT changing.
While conservatives fiercely deny reality on this question, 97 percent of scientists who study climate agree that “A” is the correct answer.
That doesn’t stop Trump voters from dismissing the science. Only 36 percent of them chose “A” as their answer. That compares to 79 percent of Democrats doing so.
Did Saddam Hussein have weapons of mass destruction before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that the U.S. never found?
Many people may have forgotten that prior to Bush’s invasion of Iraq there was an international team of nuclear experts investigating and monitoring Iraq. They never found any trace of WMDs. Neither were any found after the invasion.
Of course Trump voters are not constrained by facts. Consequently, 68 percent of them said that it was definitely/probably true that Saddam had WMDs. By contrast, the definitely/probably true respondents among Democrats were only 10 and 32 percent respectively.
Was President Obama born in Kenya?
Why is this still a question? Even Trump stated in a press conference that he now believes that Obama was born in the U.S., period.
Still, Trump’s loyal followers are unmoved. A majority of 52 percent continue to say that Obama is definitely/probably a native Kenyan. Democrats aren’t perfect on this question, yet they’re still far better informed than the Trumpsters. Their definitely/probably born in Kenya numbers are only 7 and 13 percent.
Did Russia hack the email of Democrats in order to increase the chance that Donald Trump would win the Presidential election.
Seventeen American intelligence agencies, including the FBI and the CIA answer this question with a resounding “YES!” President Obama just slammed Russia with sanctions and diplomatic expulsions in retaliation for their interference in our democracy.
However, Trump voters are as defensive about Vladimir Putin as Trump himself. Eighty percent say the charges against Russia are definitely/probably NOT true. And by now you won’t be surprised to learn that the same figures for Democrats are a measly 9/16 percent respectively.
Were millions of illegal votes cast in the election?
This question was motivated by Trump’s tweeted assertion that he would have won the popular vote but for millions of illegal votes cast for Clinton. He never bothered to provide and documentation for his claim. And every expert that reviewed it found it to be false or unsupported by any facts.
OK, guest what? Sixty-two percent of Trump voters say the claim is definitely/probably true. Sixty-four of Democrats say the opposite.
Did Leaked email from Hillary Clinton’s campaign contain code words for pedophilia, human trafficking and satanic ritual abuse – what some people refer to as ’Pizzagate’?
This was one of the more prominent examples of fake news that made the headlines in the past few weeks. It was never given credibility by any legitimate news source. It simply spread like a virus via Facebook and Twitter infecting the dimwitted, right-wing cult fetishists. Eventually, it led to a near tragedy as one of the believers showed up at the pizzeria with an assault weapon.
And yet, 46 percent of Trump voters said that this ludicrous fiction was definitely/probably true. That compared to 76 percent of Democrats saying, essentially, “WTF?”
It is incomprehensible that so many Americans can be so plainly and dangerously ill-informed. It doesn’t bode well for 2017 and beyond as the Trump administration begins to put its imprimatur on the country. But this epidemic of ignorance was not accidental. It was a deliberate act of disinformation by Trump and the Republican Party. And the media bears its share of responsibility for putting ratings and profit before journalistic ethics.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
The only hope is for those who have not been deceived to relentlessly correct the record. They need to use facts, and reason, and shame, if necessary, to distribute the truth. It’s a difficult task to pitch reality to weak-willed, faith-based, zealots for whom facts hold no appeal. But failing to try is a far worse alternative. Be strong. Be persistent. Resist!