Saturday, October 23, 2004

The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters

The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) has just released a report, based on public opinion surveys, examining the differences between Bush and Kerry supporters on a number of issues. The report contains the first hard data that helps me understand why Bush supporters still support Bush: a good fraction of them do not understand his positions, the world's view of him, or what the reality of our world situation is. In contrast to the ignorance of many Bush supporters, the report found that most Kerry supporters accurately judge both Kerry's own positions and the world situation.

PIPA has posted the survey questions and answers (PDF), their own analysis of the results (PDF of the full report), and a press-release (PDF). The report is primarily data-based and filled with great statistics ... here are a few excerpts:
"In recent months the American public has been presented reports by the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the heads of the Iraq survey group David Kay and Charles Duelfer (chosen by the president), concluding that before the war Iraq had neither weapons of mass destruction nor even a significant program for developing them. Nonetheless, 72% of Bush supporters continued to hold to the view that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Only 26% of Kerry supporters hold such beliefs."
"Despite the report of the 9/11 Commission saying there is no evidence Iraq was providing significant support to al Qaeda, 75% of Bush supporters believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda (30% of Kerry supporters), with 20% believing that Iraq was directly involved in 9/11. Sixty-three percent of Bush supporters even believe that clear evidence of this support has been found, while 85% of Kerry supporters believe the opposite."
"When asked (September 3-7) about world public opinion on US foreign policy under the Bush administration, 82% of Bush supporters believed that a world majority either feels better about the US due to its recent foreign policy (37%), or thought views are about evenly divided (45%). Only 17% thought that a majority now feels worse about the US. ... In fact, in the GlobeScan poll of 35 countries, in 30 countries a majority or plurality said "the foreign policy of George W. Bush" had made them "feel worse about the United States" (feel better: 3 countries). On average, 53% said they felt worse about the US while 19% said they felt better."
"Bush supporters have numerous misperceptions about Bush’s international policy positions. Majorities incorrectly assumed that Bush supports multilateral approaches to various international issues—the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the treaty banning land mines (72%); 51% incorrectly assumed he favors US participation in the Kyoto treaty--the principal international accord on global warming. After he denounced the International Criminal Court in the debates, the perception that he opposed it increased from 24% to 38% among Bush supporters, but a majority of supporters (53%) continued to believe that he favors it. Only 13% of supporters are aware that he opposes labor and environmental standards in trade agreements – 74% incorrectly believe that he favors including labor and environmental standards in agreements on trade."
After reading the report I am left baffled; what does it take to get through to these people?

The report is titled "The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters" and the principle investigator is Steven Kull (released October 21, 2004; via BoingBoing)

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