Friday, December 09, 2016

The Reality Gap

This is a real problem. From Steve Benen, on the Maddow Show blog:

...what struck me as especially notable about the new survey results is the persistence of the so-called “reality gap.”

* Unemployment: Under President Obama, job growth has been quite strong, and the unemployment rate has improved dramatically. PPP, however, found that 67% of Trump voters believe the unemployment rate went up under Obama – which is the exact opposite of reality...

* Popular Vote: As of this morning, Hillary Clinton received roughly 2.7 million more votes than Donald Trump, but PPP nevertheless found that 40% of Trump voters believe he won the popular vote – which is, once again, the exact opposite of reality.

* Voter Fraud: Even Trump’s lawyers concede there was no voter fraud in the presidential election, but PPP found that 60% of Trump voters apparently believe “millions” of illegal ballots were cast for Clinton in 2016 – which isn’t even close to resembling reality.

As Benen notes, when a sizable percentage of our country is invested in believing  -- for whatever reason -- what is transparently a lie, it's hard to know how we're going to move forward.

1 comment:

Contingent Cassandra said...

I'm more sympathetic to the first bullet point than the second two, but/and can also imagine how the first would contribute to the second two. If your local reality re: unemployment doesn't match the reports (i.e. if many people you know are losing and/or can't find jobs, but the numbers are supposedly improving), I can understand how you might become skeptical of the reported numbers. And I can see how that might lead to skepticism of other "official" numbers.

None of this absolves the incoming administration of using numbers responsibly, and of just plain sticking to the facts when the facts are known, but I wonder whether more granular reporting/citing of the unemployment numbers, with acknowledgment that the picture looks very different to different people, would have helped. Then again, when Obama and other Democrats did do that for some groups/geographical areas (e.g. looking at persistent racial inequality, including in urban areas), they were accused of being divisive, racist, etc. One could argue that such assessments should have paid more attention to whites in similar situations, but I can also imagine that kind of analysis, especially coming from Obama or other well-educated, relatively well-off African-Americans, going over pretty badly with the groups being discussed.