Saturday, October 23, 2004

Bush Supporters' Misperceptions

Found at

Bush Supporters' Misperceptions:

I just ran across a poll conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland (a group that calls itself nonpartisan, that apparently is regarded as nonpartisan, and whose board contains both Republicans and Democrats). I find its results stunning. Rather than summarize them, I'll just quote from their press release. The full study (which is fascinating) is available at

Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.

Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.

Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments, "One of the reasons that Bush supporters have these beliefs is that they perceive the Bush administration confirming them. Interestingly, this is one point on which Bush and Kerry supporters agree." Eighty-two percent of Bush supporters perceive the Bush administration as saying that Iraq had WMD (63%) or that Iraq had a major WMD program (19%). Likewise, 75% say that the Bush administration is saying Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda. Equally large majorities of Kerry supporters hear the Bush administration expressing these views--73% say the Bush administration is saying Iraq had WMD (11% a major program) and 74% that Iraq was substantially supporting al Qaeda.

Steven Kull adds, "Another reason that Bush supporters may hold to these beliefs is that they have not accepted the idea that it does not matter whether Iraq had WMD or supported al Qaeda. Here too they are in agreement with Kerry supporters." Asked whether the US should have gone to war with Iraq if US intelligence had concluded that Iraq was not making WMD or providing support to al Qaeda, 58% of Bush supporters said the US should not have, and 61% assume that in this case the President would not have. Kull continues, "To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq."

This tendency of Bush supporters to ignore dissonant information extends to other realms as well. Despite an abundance of evidence--including polls conducted by Gallup International in 38 countries, and more recently by a consortium of leading newspapers in 10 major countries--only 31% of Bush supporters recognize that the majority of people in the world oppose the US having gone to war with Iraq. Forty-two percent assume that views are evenly divided, and 26% assume that the majority approves. Among Kerry supporters, 74% assume that the majority of the world is opposed.

Similarly, 57% of Bush supporters assume that the majority of people in the world would favor Bush's reelection; 33% assumed that views are evenly divided and only 9% assumed that Kerry would be preferred. A recent poll by GlobeScan and PIPA of 35 of the major countries around the world found that in 30, a majority or plurality favored Kerry, while in just 3 Bush was favored. On average, Kerry was preferred more than two to one.

Bush supporters also have numerous misperceptions about Bush's international policy positions. Majorities incorrectly assume that Bush supports multilateral approaches to various international issues--the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the treaty banning land mines (72%)--and for addressing the problem of global warming: 51% incorrectly assume he favors US participation in the Kyoto treaty. After he denounced the International Criminal Court in the debates, the perception that he favored it dropped from 66%, but still 53% continue to believe that he favors it. An overwhelming 74% incorrectly assumes that he favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. In all these cases, majorities of Bush supporters favor the positions they impute to Bush. Kerry supporters are much more accurate in their perceptions of his positions on these issues.

Hold aside for a moment the implications of this poll for the Bush administration. Isn't it disappointing for so many supporters of any presidential candidate to have such misperceptions on issues as central as these?


vrangel said...

I've read somewhere recently that 30% of all Americans believe in UFOs. Oh well... could be the same people. :)

By the way VolokhConspiracy is a good site, I read it.

Johnny said...

In the end, we get the government we deserve. We, the American people, by and large divide the world into two groups: Americans (human beings), and "funny talkin' furriners". We are an amazingly insular people, knowing little about anything outside of our own homes and families. We are, for the most part, a delusional nation, preferring our illusions to harsh reality, preferring to believe in the myth of the Great Hero than the reality of hard work and perseverance, a nation that is profoundly ignorant and anti-intellectual where school board members proudly proclaim that they're against that fancy dandy edumacation stuff 'cause that evil "evolution" stuff is anti-Christian, and where right wing conservatives such as David Horowitz rail against universities for hiring scientists who do science rather than for hiring scientists who do religion -- and are actually listened to by a large percentage of the population. It is a nation where "stranger danger" leads to children not allowed to play and grow and be children , where they grow up paranoid and suspicious and out of contact with the realities of life and living. It is a nation that has lost its course, and is allowing that paranoid and suspicious psychosis cause it to thrash out wildly at anybody and anything who might someday, somehow, present a threat to their little Johnny and Jane.

If Bush is re-elected next week, it will be only what we as a nation deserve. The only sad part is that there are tens of millions of people who do not deserve such a fate, and billions worldwide who will have to worry in fear of what this paranoid-delusional anti-intellectual nation is next going to randomly strike out at. But, as an Israeli immigrant friend who looked at that survey said, "For the first time I am ashamed to be an American." As for me, I was born here, and shall die here, and will continue my feeble efforts to steer the ship of state away from the icebergs ahead, but I am not optimistic. I am not optimistic at all. We get the government we deserve, and when as a people we are basically selfish, short-sighted ignorant bigots who hate anybody who isn't American and thrash out in fear at any percieved threat no matter how unrealistic the perception... well, the government we deserve isn't one that is very pleasant, or very competent.

vrangel said...

"...we are basically selfish, short-sighted ignorant bigots who hate anybody who isn't..."

Thats pretty much a definition of humanity itself if you are inclined to look at it that way. Of course thats not everything there is about human race. There is plenty of beauty about it too. America is a part of it all.

ALa said...


Bigandmean said...

If your immigrant friend is ashamed to be an American give him a message from me. Tell him he doesn't have to stay. Maybe Alec Baldwin will help him pack.

Johnny said...

Thanks, "bigandmean", for proving my point that we Americans divide the world into human beings (native-born Americans) and "funny-talkin' furriners" who aren't, like, human.

My Israeli friend is quite afraid that the way the country is going, he's going to have Christianity forced down his gullet. As someone who is Jewish, he is not interested in living in a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. He is looking northward at Canada, which has put out the welcome wagon for the world's best and brightest. As one of the best people in the world in his particular area of specialization (there are maybe a dozen people worldwide more famous in his area than he is), Canada would take him in a Dixie minute. He's somewhat upset, though, that he's going to have to uproot his kids if it comes to that, since they were born here and grew up as Americans.

Welcome to the United States of Delusion, where every day is an illusion, where the soothing voice on the radio or the cool blue glow in the living room tells us what to think and what to feel, who to hate and who to kill...

vrangel said...

For all your eloquence you are talking nonsense.
Young intellectuals tend to get carried away and construct elaborate abstract models. It's just not true, as simple as that. Don't waste your brain.

(And by the way your friend isn't going anywhere obviously; people go to great lengths to get IN the US, hardly anyone leaves. Just an example of why your model has no legs.)

Snave said...

Why continue to believe in something that has continually been proven wrong?

Do the people who have posted comments on this thread believe:

1. that Iraq was providing substantial support to Al Qaeda?
2. that Iraq had actual WMD or a major program for developing them?

Don't evade the question by providing a lengthy response; a simple "yes" or "no" will do.

ALa said...

On 10/2/04 This We'll Defend said:

"A former head of Central Command has come out in favor of Kerry. For Bush? Not even that well-known republican (and great general) Gen. Schwarzkopf has announced he WILL NOT endorse Bush - he did in 2000. I guess he is a hippy peacenik now."
BUT...That was Wrong wrong wrong...

"I am supporting President Bush for re-election because he is the candidate who has demonstrated the conviction needed to defeat terrorism," General Schwarzkopf said.

ALa said...

On 10/2/04 This We'll Defend said:

"A former head of Central Command has come out in favor of Kerry. For Bush? Not even that well-known republican (and great general) Gen. Schwarzkopf has announced he WILL NOT endorse Bush - he did in 2000. I guess he is a hippy peacenik now."
BUT...That was Wrong wrong wrong...

"I am supporting President Bush for re-election because he is the candidate who has demonstrated the conviction needed to defeat terrorism," General Schwarzkopf said.

ALa said...

I wish i would've had this a month ago to counter all your 'kerry is great and won't pull out of Iraq and will be strong if we need to go to war' arguments. This was written by the hero of the left, the man who was honored with the seat next to former president Jimmy Carter at the DNC convention, a man (unlike you) that has met, talked to and actually KNOWS Kerry --yes, Supersize Me himself...Michael Moore. And this is what he has to say about his friend John Kerry:

"To My Friends on the Left:

Okay, Kerry isn’t everything you wished he would be. You’re right. He’s not you! Or me. But we’re not on the ballot – Kerry is. Yes, Kerry was wrong to vote for authorization for war in Iraq but he was in step with 70% of the American public who was being lied to by Bush & Co. And once everyone learned the truth, the majority turned against the war. Kerry has had only one position on the war – he believed his president.
President Kerry had better bring the troops home right away. My prediction: Kerry’s roots are anti-war. He has seen the horrors of war and because of that he will avoid war unless it is absolutely necessary. Ask most vets. But don’t ask someone whose only horror was when he arrived too late for a kegger in Alabama.
There’s a reason Bush calls Kerry the Number One Liberal in the Senate – THAT’S BECAUSE HE IS THE NUMBER ONE LIBERAL IN THE SENATE! What more do you want? My friends, this is about as good as it gets when voting for the Democrat. We don’t have the #29 Liberal running or the #14 Liberal or even the #2 Liberal – we got #1! When has that ever happened?
Those of us who may be to the left of the #1 liberal Democrat should remember that this year conservative Democrats have had to make a far greater shift in their position to back Kerry than we have. We’re the ones always being asked to make the huge compromises and to always vote holding our noses. No nose holding this time. This #1 liberal is not the tweedledee to Bush’s tweedledum."
*from his repulsive website.

this we'll defend said...

Again ALa71 resorts to half truths and lies and distortions.

Did Schwarzkopf, a well-known republican, endorse Bush? yes. Finally. Yesterday. After avoiding doing so during this entire election. In the words of the article ALa71 cites, "On Sunday, the retired general gave Bush a strong endorsement in Tampa, Fla." The dateline for this article was today.

So, on 10/02/04, when I spoke, Schwarzkopf HAD refused to endorse Bush. Apparently he was so impressed by Bush's grand strategy that he WAITED UNTIL THE LAST POSSIBLE MOMENT TO ENDORSE HIM. So I was not "WrongWrongWrong." My facts, as usual, were accurate. Ala71's, as is usual for her party and her president, were distorted and while not outright lies, were misleading and inaccurate. When I spoke in early October the absense of his endorsement, for a candidate he enthusiastically campaigned for in 2000, was defeaning. He finally, like McCain, gritted his teeth and endorse his party leader - the Sunday before Tuesday's election.

For ALa71 this is more proof of how beloved our President is, but for those of us in the "reality-based community" the Gen.'s delay in endorsing Bush raises some pretty strong questions.

But I guess she will claim "you said he didn't endorse Bush before you said he did. Flip-flop."

"When the facts change I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?"

this we'll defend said...

AGain, my dear - Michael Moore is NOT the democratic party's candidate. John Kerry is.

And he is your next president.

this we'll defend said...

From the Daily Kos back in early October:

"Then this Tuesday on Hardball, Chris Matthews asked Schwarzkopf who he was voting for. He repeatedly pressed him and each time he refused to say Bush. Talk about turn abound and alienation. Not only isn't he going to the convention this time, he disassociated himself with the Republican party. Further, he refused to say anything negative about Kerry and indicated that he may vote for him.

MATTHEWS: Who are you voting for?

SCHWARZKOPF: I`ve--you know, I`ve--I`ve always told you--I`ve always told you I`m an independent.

MATTHEWS: But you got to vote, you know? Is it going to be for Bush, Kerry, or Nader. I don`t think it`s Nader, so how about one of the other two?

SCHWARZKOPF: What`s wrong with Nader? You don`t like Nader?

MATTHEWS: --I`m trying to probe here, General. I`m just probing. No comment?

SCHWARZKOPF: Let me put it this way. You know,-- I`ll know exactly who I`m voting for the day I pull the lever on that machine or push the buttons, whatever it happens to be.

He also took the opportunity to criticize Bush's plan to recall US soldiers from South Korea and Europe.

MATTHEWS: now we`re going to withdraw a third of our troops from the DMZ. Is it possible that might send him the wrong signal?

SCHWARZKOPF: Yes, well, it`s very, very possible. But worse than that, it`s going to send a very, very, very wrong signal to the people in South Korea. They`re the ones that are going to be looking at what this is going to result in.

MATTHEWS: What about Europe?...Is that the signal we want to send, we`re out there alone now?

SCHWARZKOPF: No, I don`t think so...but you know, under the doctrine that Rumsfeld is advocating, that we`re going to have these, you know, high-powered rapid reaction forces that can get over there very quickly and some kind of airplane that hasn`t been invented yet or some kind of other way to get over there very quickly, and therefore, we don`t need to have them in place at the time, we can get them there quick enough to; something else about it -- that`s going to be a very expensive proposition to put together, by the way.

Now this is Big. Not only is he taking a position far different then what he took four years ago, lets remember that he makes a nice living doing speaking engagements for republican loving corporations, which can all be stopped with one phone call."

END OF QUOTE from DailyKos

I guess somebody made that phone call. Finally, yesterday, he endorsed Bush, the man he campaigned for tirelessly in 2000.

Ever hear the phrase "damn with faint praise?"

vrangel said...

Anyway, how about some predictions . It's about time.

Here is mine: Bush-52, Kerry-48. (Nader a fraction)

Anyone ?

this we'll defend said...

Good idea Vrangel. I'm going to make it a new post.