The power of propaganda in a post-truth America

Donald Trump has been on a “victory tour” falsely telling his rabid supporters that he won a “massive landslide victory.” Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory was not a ‘massive landslide’.

According to the 2016 National Popular Vote Tracker, Hillary Clinton now leads by 2.8 million votes (more than 2.1 percent of the total vote) as states continue to report final results.

And Trump’s Electoral College Victory Ranks 46th in 58 Elections:

Trump won 30 states, gathering 306 of 538 electoral votes. There have been 45 presidential elections in which the winning candidate won a larger share of the electoral vote.

[Trump’s popular vote] deficit gives him the third-worst vote margin among winning candidates since 1824.

GOP_BubbleBut Trump’s self-angrandizing falsehood gets repeated in the Epistemic closure of the ‘conservative misinformation feedback loop’ media bubble, and this is the result: A new poll shows an astonishing 52% of Republicans incorrectly think Trump won the popular vote:

Half of all Republicans actually think Trump won the popular vote.

In a nationally representative online survey of 1,011 Americans conducted by Qualtrics between Dec. 6 and 12, we asked respondents, “In last month’s election, Donald Trump won the majority of votes in the electoral college. Who do you think won the most popular votes?”

Twenty-nine percent said Donald Trump won the popular vote. This is a slightly larger proportion than in a recent Pew survey in which 19 percent said Trump won the popular vote.

Respondents’ correct understanding of the popular vote depended a great deal on partisanship. A large fraction of Republicans — 52 percent — said Trump won the popular vote, compared with only 7 percent of Democrats [who are these people?] and 24 percent of independents. Among Republicans without any college education, the share was even larger: 60 percent, compared with 37 percent of Republicans with a college degree.

This same pattern of partisan bias didn’t emerge on other factual questions in our survey. For example, we asked respondents to estimate the size of the country’s African American and Latino populations. As is typical, people tended to overestimate the size of these groups: On average, respondents think 27 percent of Americans are black and 28 percent are Latino. (The correct answers as of 2015 are 13.3 percent and 17.6 percent.)

But these numbers do not vary by party affiliation. Democrats and Republicans make similar guesses, on average.

These results align with something social scientists have long recognized: We choose facts to be consistent with our prior beliefs. In this case, Republicans are more likely to endorse erroneous claims about Trump’s victory because it aligns with their partisanship. They do not, however, have any partisan motivation when estimating the size of minority groups.

I don’t know how we can ever achieve the goal of an informed electorate in an era of fake news and epistemic closure in a post-truth America where feelings have replaced irrefutable facts.

14 responses to “The power of propaganda in a post-truth America

  1. ” I am not being a smart ass with that comment…”
    Don’t sell yourself short, Steve, you’re being a tremendous ass with that comment.

    • “Don’t sell yourself short, Steve, you’re being a tremendous ass with that comment.”

      (Big Sigh)And with that comment, Eric, you have demonstrated that you are NOT a person to whom being polite is worthwhile. The next time you display such utter ignorance, I will not be as gentle and polite with you. I suspect I won’t have long to wait.

  2. John Huppenthal

    The $2 trillion dollar increase in the stock market is an F5 tornado, a richter scale 8.9 earthquake, a category 5 hurricane.

    Its a fact that dwarfs all of your other “facts.”

    • Thuckster,
      What type of turbulence do you call the 11,000 increase in the Dow under our current president? Here you are having an erection over a 4% rise. C’mon man.

      • Assuming your figures are correct, do you seriously want to compare $11,000 spread out over eight years to $2,000 over four weeks? You have no sense of proportion. Under Obama, the market averaged $26 a week increase. With Trump coming into office, the market has averaged $500 per week increase.Whether the increase is due to Obama leaving office or Trump coming into office, or a combination of the two, that is a significant increase. Common sense tells you it can’t last forever, but it does tell you about the enthusiam that exists because Trump is assumung office and Obama is (and by extension, the democrats) are leaving.

        • Are you purposefully being obtuse? The market rose 125% under Obama. It has gone up 4% in what you attribute to the Trump effect.
          So, wise man, would you rather make $125 or $4????

          • Are you being obtuse? Where did you get those figures? What $125 over what timefrane? What $4 over what timeframe. There is a thing called the “time value of money” which comes in to play.

            Let’s say what you were implying was $125 over the 8 years of Obama’s Presidency, and $4 over the 4 weeks of Trump’s impending Presidency. I would take the $4 because that represents $1 per week, $52 per year, and $416 over 8 years. Now which would you rather have? $125 or $416?

            Obviously, that is an entirely stupid scenario I set forth, but it goes to demonstrate that what Obama had was a slow and steady rise in the Stock Market when factored evenly over his term in office. That’s nothing to be sneezed at, but it is not especially great, either. It is just okay. And that was my point…you came in trying to make an $11,000 increase over 8 years as something phenomenal, which it isn’t.

            I suggest you take a personal finance course before you lose significant saving. I am not being a smart ass with that comment, I am offering some sage advice. Everyone should take a good finance course to better understand money.

          • (2nd response) I just realized where you got your $125 and $4 figures from. You really do need to take a personal finance course or you will be broke in your old age.

        • For Sure Not Tom

          I’m sure those broke, jobless rust-belters who turned on the Dems and elected Trump are dancing in the streets over the rise of the DOW.

          This is the Paul Ryan bubble. The market dove 800 points in overnight trading on the news that Trump won, until the market realized the GOP now had the House, Senate, and Trump, and that now Paul Ryan is driving the bus.

          They thought Trump was too erratic, now they’re giddy over Ryan.

          It will not last forever and it’s not a healthy market as it is. One stock I follow is priced at 50 times earnings.

          50 times earnings! That’s insane.

          I hope I’m wrong, I took a pretty good haircut after 2007, but if and when (but really just when) the bubble bursts, conservatives won’t have Obama to hide behind anymore.

          Your side owns whatever happens for the next fours years. Good luck.

          • “It will not last forever and it’s not a healthy market as it is. One stock I follow is priced at 50 times earnings.”

            Of course it is not a healthy market rise. Anytime you see dramatic increases like we have seen in the last few weeks, it is a temporary burst of enthusiam. It is a bubble which will break soon and the market will drop a few hundred points and then settle down. What it does indicate, though, is a degree of optimism that hasn’t been seen in a while. But anyone foolish enough to think this is a vision of the future for the stock market is either very naive or dumb.

            Whether the rise in the Stock Market valuation is due to Trump being elected, Ryan and the GOP controling Congress and the Presidency, or the pending departure of Obama, the fact remains that it is occurring as Trump and the GOP are taking control, and that is significant timing.

            “Your side owns whatever happens for the next fours years. Good luck.

            It would be nice if that would be the case, BUT I will make you a bet (I can’t lose this one). Anything positive that occurs in the next four years you will find a way to attribute it to something that Obama did during his stint as President. You will ONLY give credit to the GOP for the negatives that might occur.

          • For Sure Not Tom

            “Anything positive that occurs in the next four years you will find a way to attribute it to something that Obama did during his stint as President. You will ONLY give credit to the GOP for the negatives that might occur.”

            You’re projecting again. Bill O’Reilly was calling it Obama’s economy three weeks after he was sworn in.

            You guys couldn’t ditch Bush fast enough, even started blaming the recession and Iraq on Obama. The country is better off than when Obama took office, do you give him any credit?

            For a long time I looked back on Bill Clinton as a disgusting sleaze, but at least we had 8 years of peace and prosperity. Now that we see the results of his policies on crime and especially trade, I consider him as bad as Reagan.

            But think about it, Obama’s policies won’t matter, right? Because Trump swore to undo every executive order, and Ryan and team have said they’ll overturn the rest in the House and Senate.

            Back here in the real world, you have controlled the House and Senate for 6 years, and you control over 30 state governments, blaming Obama for everything when in reality you’ve been driving the bus since 2010 is lazy.

            You’re about to lose your scapegoat. Bummer for you.

          • “Back here in the real world, you have controlled the House and Senate for 6 years, and you control over 30 state governments…”

            Which is why it is also important to control the Presidency and the Supreme Court. It does no good to pass legislation that is vetoed if you don’t have a veto-proof majority. And it does no good to actually pass legislation if the REAL power – the Supreme Court – is composed of liberals who rule avery conservative piece of legislation as unconstitutional.

            “But think about it, Obama’s policies won’t matter, right? Because Trump swore to undo every executive order, and Ryan and team have said they’ll overturn the rest in the House and Senate.”

            Fortunately, Obama chose to bypass the legislative process by issuing questionable Executive Orders and then depending on no one being able to challenge them in a timely fashion. It worked for a while, but they are easily undone by the next President. Had he gone the legislative route and gotten them through, that wouldn’t be the case. Now there is at least a chance that good things can happen and happen in the proper way.

            As I keep saying, there are consequences to losing elections. Had Hillary won, there would have been horrible consequences in the other direction.

      • John Huppenthal

        eric,

        You need to carefully study Bob Lucas’s Nobel prize on rational expectations to analyze the movements.

        1) As the probability of Barack Obama becoming president in 2008 rose from 0% to 100% (Iowa political markets) in 2008, the stock markets lost $6.4 trillion in value.

        2) As the timeline and probability of Hillary Clinton becoming president shrunk from 4 years to 2 month and the probability of her winning went from 40% to 82%, the stock markets increased by $7.2 trillion

        3) As the probability of Trump becoming president increased from 18% to 100%, the stock market increased by $2 trillion additional dollars over and above that of Hillary, so his total value add is hers plus his or $9.2 trillion.

        Never been anything like it in history.

  3. “…we asked respondents to estimate the size of the country’s African American and Latino populations. As is typical, people tended to overestimate the size of these groups…”

    That is not surprising at all. Given the amount of media coverage about these two groups combined with the interest displayed by fawning politicians, one can be forgiven for thinking there are far more of them that is actually the case.

    “We choose facts to be consistent with our prior beliefs.///I don’t know how we can ever achieve the goal of an informed electorate in an era of fake news and epistemic closure in a post-truth America where feelings have replaced irrefutable facts.”

    I agree with both statements, AzBM. In the meantime what do we do when you and I can find supporting evidence on the internet that gives credence to our usually different opinions?