“America: Love it … or vote Democratic.” That’s my suggestion for a Republican campaign slogan, and I thought of it even before this USA Today article by David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, about the recent USA Today/Suffolk poll on partisan differences regarding patriotism. I would stop a bit short of describing this article as fake news, but it’s slanted enough at least to be called semi-fake.
In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, this poll solicited registered voters’ opinions of America’s “greatness” in the world, asking if they thought America was the greatest country, one of the greatest, average, or worse—and how those responses would shape across different demographics. Among Democrats, only 38 percent believe that the United States is one of the greatest countries or the greatest country on earth. Meanwhile, 66 percent of Republicans believe the U.S. is the greatest nation, with many more following close behind in the “one of the greatest” category.
Apparently shocked by how bad these findings make the Democrats look, Paleologos hastened to try to explain them away:
That result does not necessarily mean Democratic voters are less patriotic than Republicans. Perhaps their less positive perception of the United States reflects their negative perception of its leader, President Donald Trump. The Suffolk poll showed that a mere 6 percent of Democratic voters approve of the job that Donald Trump is doing as president, while more than 15 times as many (92 percent) disapprove. It is also possible that they feel Trump represents the portion of the United States’ voting population with whom they disagree vehemently.
A less partisan observer than Paleologos would more likely conclude that if Democrats disagree so vehemently with Trump and those benighted enough to vote for him that so few of them believe the U.S. is the best or even one of the best countries in the world, then they are indeed, at least now, “less patriotic than Republicans.”
But the main problem with this article, what makes it slanted right up the edge of being fake, is not that Paleologos tries to explain away his own findings. It’s that he actually covers them up. Look again at his core comparison: “Among Democrats, only 38 percent believe that the United States is one of the greatest countries or the greatest country on earth. Meanwhile, 66 percent of Republicans believe the U.S. is the greatest nation, with many more following close behind in the ‘one of the greatest’ category.”
Paleologos’s sleight of hand is to compare the 38% of Democrats who believe the U.S. is “one of the greatest or the greatest country on earth” with only those Republicans, 66%, who believe the U.S. is “the greatest nation.” The apples to apples comparison — which is to say, the honest comparison — would be 38% v. 66% + the percentage of Republicans (what percentage is “many more?”) who believe the U.S. is “one of the greatest.”
We can’t tell what that number is since Paleologos’s article contains no link to the actual poll results, something the editors of USA Today presumably also wanted to keep secret. But a look at the results of the poll itself (Table Q51, p. 48) reveals that only 12% of Democrats believe that the U.S. is the greatest country, and 26% of Republicans believe the U.S. is one of the greatest countries.
Thus the honest comparison of Democrats to Republicans on this quite reasonable measure of patriotism (is the U.S. the greatest or one of the greatest countries in the world) is 38% v. 92%. No wonder Paleologos and USA Today wanted to keep this result secret.
America: Love it or vote Democratic.