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11.15  The long read:  The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]

11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]

11.15 Trump administration to cut air pollution from heavy-duty trucks

11.14 Backed by Ocasio-Cortez, Youth Climate Activists Arrested in Pelosi's Office Demanding Democrats Embrace 'Green New Deal'

11.13 What would a smog-free city look like?

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11.13 Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

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11.12 Planned Parenthood's new president warns of 'state of emergency' for women's health

11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]

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11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]

11.16 Trump’s latest interview shows a president who’s in way over his head

11.16 Why the political fight in Georgia is far from over

11.16 Florida judge sides with Democrats, giving thousands a second chance to fix their ballots

11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]

11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]

11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]

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11.14 The Real Florida Recount Fraud

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11.14 Mueller seeking more details on Nigel Farage, key Russia inquiry target says

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11.13 Caravan marks one month on the road: ‘We keep on going, laughing or crying’

11.13 Letter Shows Einstein’s Prescient Concerns About ‘Dark Times’ in Germany

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  Print view: Voters Say Election Full of Misleading and False Information
MEDIA ANALYSIS:

Voters Say Election Full of Misleading and False Information

Poll also finds voters were misinformed on key issues.

SOURCE: Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland
Monday, 13 December 2010
86% assumed their taxes had gone up (38%) or stayed the same (48%), while only 10% were aware that their taxes had gone down since 2009.

Following the first election since the Supreme Court has struck down limits on election-related advertising, a new poll finds that 9 in 10 voters said that in the 2010 election they encountered information they believed was misleading or false, with 56% saying this occurred frequently. Fifty-four percent said that it had been more frequent than usual, while just three percent said it was less frequent than usual, according to the poll conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org, based at the University of Maryland, and Knowledge Networks.

Equally significant, the poll found strong evidence that voters were substantially misinformed on many of the key issues of the campaign. Such misinformation was correlated with how people voted and their exposure to various news sources.

Voters' misinformation included beliefs at odds with the conclusions of government agencies, generally regarded as non-partisan, consisting of professional economists and scientists.

  • Though the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that the stimulus legislation has saved or created 2.0-5.2 million jobs, only 8% of voters thought most economists who had studied it concluded that the stimulus legislation had created or saved several million jobs. Most (68%) believed that economists estimate that it only created or saved a few jobs and 20% even believed that it resulted in job losses.
  • Though the CBO concluded that the health reform law would reduce the budget deficit, 53% of voters thought most economists have concluded that health reform will increase the deficit.
  • Though the Department of Commerce says that the US economy began to recover from recession in the third quarter of 2009 and has continued to grow since then, only 44% of voters thought the economy is starting to recover, while 55% thought the economy is still getting worse.
  • Though the National Academy of Sciences has concluded that climate change is occurring, 45% of voters thought most scientists think climate change is not occurring (12%) or that scientists are evenly divided (33%).

Other key points of misinformation among voters were:

  • 40% of voters believed incorrectly that the TARP legislation was initiated under Barack Obama, rather than George Bush
  • 31% believed it was proven true that the US Chamber of Commerce spent large amounts of money it had raised from foreign sources to support Republican candidates
  • 54% believed that there were no tax cuts in the stimulus legislation
  • 86% assumed their taxes had gone up (38%) or stayed the same (48%), while only 10% were aware that their taxes had gone down since 2009
  • 53% thought that the bailout of GM and Chrysler occurred only under Obama, though it was initiated under Bush

Clay Ramsay, of WorldPublicOpinion.org, commented, "While we do not have data to make a clear comparison to the past, this high level of misinformation and the fact that voters perceived a higher than usual level of false and misleading information, suggests that the increased flow of money into political advertising may have contributed to a higher level of misinformation."

The poll also found significant differences depending on how people voted. Those who voted Republicans were more likely than those who voted Democrat to believe that "most economists have concluded that the health care law will increase the deficit" (voted Republican 73%, voted Democrat 31%); "the American economy is still getting worse" (72% to 36%); "the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts" (67% to 42%); "most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring" (62% to 26%); and "it is not clear that Obama was born within the United States" (64% to 18%).

On the other hand, Democrats were more likely to incorrectly believe that "it was proven to be true that the US Chamber of Commerce was spending large amounts of foreign money to support Republican candidates" (voted Democrat 57%, voted Republican 9%); "Obama has not increased the level of troops in Afghanistan" (51% to 39%); and "Democrats did not mostly vote in favor of TARP" (56% to 14%).

Greater exposure to particular news sources increased misinformation on some issues.

In most cases those who had greater levels of exposure to news sources had lower levels of misinformation. There were, however, a number of cases where greater exposure to a particular news source increased misinformation on some issues.

People who voted Democrat and watched Fox News were also more likely to be misinformed.

Those who watched Fox News almost daily were significantly more likely than those who never watched it to believe that "most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses" (12 points more likely), "most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit" (31 points), "the economy is getting worse" (26 points), "most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring" (30 points), "the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts" (14 points), "their own income taxes have gone up" (14 points), "the auto bailout only occurred under Obama" (13 points), "when TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it" (12 points) and that "it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States" (31 points). The effect was also not simply a function of partisan bias, as people who voted Democrat and watched Fox News were also more likely to have such misinformation than those who did not watch it--though by a lesser margin than those who voted Republican.

There were cases with some other news sources as well. Daily consumers of MSNBC and public broadcasting (NPR and PBS) were higher (34 points and 25 points respectively) in believing that "it was proven that the US Chamber of Commerce was spending money raised from foreign sources to support Republican candidates." Daily watchers of network TV news broadcasts were 12 points higher in believing that "TARP was signed into law by President Obama," and 11 points higher in believing that "most Republicans oppose TARP."

The poll of 848 Americans was fielded from November 6 to 15, 2010. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percent. It was conducted using the web-enabled KnowledgePanel®, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Initially, participants are chosen scientifically by a random selection of telephone numbers and residential addresses. Persons in selected households are then invited by telephone or by mail to participate in the web-enabled KnowledgePanel®. For those who agree to participate, but do not already have Internet access, Knowledge Networks provides a laptop and ISP connection. Click here for more technical information.


WorldPublicOpinion.org is a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland and funded by the Calvert Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.



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This story was published on December 13, 2010.
 

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