Saturday, October 30, 2004

PIPA POLL: Bush Supporters Still Believe Iraq Lies

I think we're getting close to the crux of the problem ...

"It's not just Bush who's living in a bubble... A majority of those who support him are fundamentally misinformed about key justifications for going to war against Iraq, and other important factors in his foreign policy. A new report from PIPA (the Project on Policy Alternatives) titled, "Bush Supporters Still Believe Iraq Had WMD or Major Program, Supported al Qaeda" has the following lead findings:

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.

The report is based on polls conducted in September and October.

Diaries :: Paul Rosenberg's diary :: Thu Oct 21st, 2004 at 12:53:43 PM EST

In a relatively short time, PIPA has established itself as the leading source of in-depth information about public opinion and knowledge in foreign policy, focusing particular attention on misperceptions that underpin conventional wisdom.
Not only do they highlight misperceptions among the public, equally--or perhaps more importantly--they highlight misperceptions among the policy elite, including the elite media. Here, they find that it really matters that Bush/Cheney contiune to mislead on these crucial points:

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."

Other areas where Bush supporters suppress dissonant information includes the opposition of world opinion to (1) the US invasion of Iraq and (2) the re-election of Bush, and Bush's opposition to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the treaty banning land mines, the Kyoto (global warming) Protocols, the International Criminal Court, and the inclusion of labor and environmental standards in trade agreements.

Why the disconnect?

"The roots of the Bush supporters' resistance to information," according to Steven Kull, "very likely lie in the traumatic experience of 9/11 and equally in the near pitch-perfect leadership that President Bush showed in its immediate wake. This appears to have created a powerful bond between Bush and his supporters--and an idealized image of the President that makes it difficult for his supporters to imagine that he could have made incorrect judgments before the war, that world public opinion could be critical of his policies or that the President could hold foreign policy positions that are at odds with his supporters."
Read more here, with links

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