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Poll: NJ struggles to tell fake news from real

Fairleigh Dickinson poll says GOP better at identifying real scandals than Democrats

By David Wildstein, November 01 2018 8:33 am

A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll gave New Jerseyans four scandals surrounding the Trump White House – two real and two fake – and asked them to separate truth from fiction.

On the made-up scandals, New Jersey went one for one.

Asked if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently resigned over negotiations with North Korea, 17% said it happened, while 47% correctly said it did not.  36% of New Jersey wasn’t sure.

But when questioned about remarks Donald Trump made while filming his old reality TV show, The Apprentice, being leaked to the press, 47% said it happened, while just 14% knew it was false.  39% were not sure.

“There has been such an onslaught of news since Trump took office that voters seem to have a hard time keeping up,” said Dan Cassino, professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and an analyst for the poll. “At this point, it seems many remain confused about what happened, and what didn’t.”

More than half of New Jersey (55%) knew that Scott Pruitt resigned as head of the Environmental Protection Agency amidst criticism that he had misused public funds, while 9% say it never happened and 36% weren’t sure.  54% knew Paul Manafort recently pleaded guilty to conspiring against the United States, but 21% said it didn’t happen and 25% weren’t sure.

“It’s interesting that fewer Republicans were able to correctly identify the real scandals, as compared with Democrats. It could be that what we’re seeing here is something that researchers call motivated reasoning,” said Cassino. “When the facts don’t align with what people would like to believe, they often shift their perception of the facts, rather than re-evaluate their attitudes. This isn’t about random memory failures. Rather, people are motivated to forget about things that conflict with what they would like to believe.”

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