A new series of Public Policy Polling statistics provides worrying evidence about just how insulated the Right is from reality.
Timothy McBride, a health economist and professor at Washington University in St. Louis, was kind enough to tweet the findings Friday after they aired on The Rachel Maddow Show.
Wrong About Obama
Almost 40 percent of those who voted for President-elect Donald Trump believed that the stock market declined during President Obama’s eight years in office. But in fact, the Dow Jones averages have more than tripled since he was elected in 2008.
Trump voters also had a dour view of unemployment under Obama. Only 20 percent of them correctly acknowledged that unemployment declined dramatically under his watch. The unemployment rate today – 4.6 percent – is the lowest since August of 2007.
Confused About The Election
Trump voters were also misinformed about the popular vote. Trump won the electoral college, which gave him the presidency. But his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote, eclipsing Trump’s total by some 2.6 million votes.
It’s likely that at least some of those polled were confused by Trump’s claim late in November that he technically won the popular vote, but millions of illegal voters had skewed the results to favor Clinton. Trump’s claim was widely criticized as a conspiracy theory, including by many on the Right.
But judging by the PPP data, this disinformation campaign has been wildly successful. Only half of all Trump voters knew that Clinton had won the popular vote.
And 60 percent of them believed that millions voted illegally for Clinton.
Just 53 percent of Trump voters confirmed their commitment to democratic ideals by avowing that California should be included in the popular vote.
Californians voted for Clinton over Trump by a 2 to 1 margin.
But following the election, Trump alleged California had “serious voter fraud.” Those who supported Trump likely believed that the bulk of the illegal votes were from California.
These figures bode ill for the future of democracy in our country. The Republicans’ radical rejection of reality is nothing new. It started with denying the scientific facts of evolution and climate change, but has now crept into the electoral process itself.
At the Democratic National Convention earlier this year, President Obama warned about the importance of staying engaged with political realities.
“Democracy works, America. But we gotta want it.”
What Obama meant is that democracy requires an informed and intelligent body politic, a citizenry inquisitive enough to seek the truth, identify falsehoods, and wrestle with facts that might be uncomfortable for them. It requires people whose worldview is aligned with reality, not people who allow their worldview to be warped by a dogmatic religion and a dishonest politics of division.
Without a rational, fact-based discussion, America will remain divided and face greater difficulty forging real progress. And we may end up with more Donald Trumps.
Featured image via MSNBC video.