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Monday, November 08, 2004

Were Bush Voters Delusional?

Months ago, the former head of the Iraq Survey Group, David Kay, said that people who failed to recognize that Iraq does not have WMD are "delusional."

So, were Bush voters last week delusional?

Some social science evidence suggests that a substantial portion were at least quite confused. PIPA, the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland recently published their latest poll results. The survey was conducted in September and October, so it's not exactly an exit poll, but the results are nonetheless quite revealing:
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.
Does anyone have any reason to think that the Bush voters would have believed anything different just last week, when they voted?

In other words, though this isn't from an exit poll, I think the data probably explain a good portion of Bush's voters.

There's more, much more:
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....

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.
The poll had a lot more.

Apparent lesson: if the lies are repeated often enough, people will believe them, even if they are resoundingly debunked.

It is just amazing.

Footnote: One of my Department colleagues told me that Bob Herbert's weekend column in The New York Times also discusses PIPA and Bush voters.

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