It’s no big secret that our current president has a cold and distant relationship with the truth and/or reality. President Trump‘s loosey-goosey, come and go approach to reality and telling the American people something that even remotely resembles truth is one of its defining characteristics. So much so, in fact, that The Washington Post has a running tally of over 6,400 lies he’s told since taking office.
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It can be safely assumed, of course, that at least some Americans are buying what Trump is selling. The question has been, heretofore, how many. Tracking all of those 6400+ lies may have paid dividends, because The Post’s fact-checking team actually tried to answer that very question with a poll they specifically designed to test how accepted Trump’s alternative reality has become.
Working with Scott Clement and Emily Guskin of The Washington Post polling department, the Fact Checker team developed a poll designed to test whether President Trump’s repeated false claims are being accepted as true by the American public.
In an article explaining the methodology used in the poll, the fact checkers said they tried to keep the study as unbiased toward Trump as one could, but not identifying him as the liar. In other words, they tried to keep Trump supporters from reflexively supporting or believing his lies.
The survey included 18 pairs of opposing statements — one true, one false — without identifying who made the statement. Eleven questions gauging belief in false claims by Trump were mixed among four false claims by Democrats, a true claim by Trump and two probing other factual statements.
The results, if you believe things like Pew’s presidential approval rating, aren’t all that surprising. Less than 30% of people think Trump tells the truth. Many have long-suspected that Trump supporters might be backing him in full knowledge of his lies, and considering his approval rating has hovered around 40%, it would seem that there could be a portion of his base that really does believe climate change is a Chinese hoax like Trump tells them. The good news is how un-horrifying that is,
Fewer than 3 in 10 Americans — including fewer than 4 in 10 Republicans — believe these or several other prominent claims by the president, according to the poll. Only among a pool of strong Trump approvers — about 1 in 6 adults in the survey — did large majorities accept several, though not all, of his falsehoods as true. Among the falsehoods tested were four that are listed on the Fact Checker’s list of Bottomless Pinocchios — claims that president has repeated more than 20 times.
For the first two years of his presidency, whether or not the American people generally believed him was almost of no consequence to Trump. He had majorities in the House and Senate within his own party, so he has been relatively safe from the repercussions of his, um, management style and inability to stay tethered to the truth for very long. In January, that changes. It will be very interesting to see if the man who has managed to escape being held accountable for his well-documented penchant for stretching the truth/lying through his teeth faces any consequences for not managing to make himself believable to more than 30% of Americans.
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook and Instagram, but not Twitter because he has a potty mouth.
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