Poll: This is Donald Trump's most convincing falsehood

Donald Trump, known for falsehoods in his tenure as President (and long before that), has many supporters wh...

Posted: Dec 19, 2018 6:25 AM
Updated: Dec 19, 2018 6:25 AM

Donald Trump, known for falsehoods in his tenure as President (and long before that), has many supporters who back the things he says even though they're not all precisely true.

But there are dubious Trump statements with bipartisan appeal, according to a fascinating new Washington Post poll that asks respondents whether they thought claims were true or false, or weren't sure. The survey didn't directly mention who made the statements and it also tested fact-checked statements by Democrats in Congress.

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So what was the statement from Trump, disputed by the Washington Post fact checker, that was most believed in the poll?

The President claimed that the military budget was at a record high at a West Virginia rally in July, saying, "We have secured, this year -- with the help of Shelley and your great congressman -- a record $700 billion for our military. And next year, $716 billion -- most amount ever," when in reality, it's been higher previously. According to the Post's fact check, Trump has repeated this claim twice.

A full 36% of those surveyed believed that statement was true, according to the poll, and slightly more Democrats (39%) than Republicans (34%). Closely following were Trump's claims that the US "funds the majority of the budget for NATO" (35% thought that was true) and "North Korea has done more to end its nuclear weapons program in the past six months than in the previous 25 years" (34% thought it was true). The US funds part of NATO, but not a majority.

Republicans were more likely to believe both those statements than Democrats were. More than half of Republicans (56%), the highest amount to believe any of the false or misleading presidential statements tested, said North Korea had done more to end its nuclear weapons in the last six months than the previous 25 years. Another 53% of Republicans said the US funds the majority of the budget for NATO, which Trump tweeted in July.

More people believed false claims that Democrats made than those that had been made by the President. The most-believed false statement tested, according to the Post and its poll, was that there are more people in prison for selling or possessing marijuana than for all violent crimes (46%). That statement was made by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in June. Later, a spokesman for Warren acknowledged her error, saying she meant marijuana possession arrests, not incarcerations.

The least-believed false or misleading statements by the President were: "In the last year, the company US Steel announced plans to build more than six steel plants in the United States" (12% thought that was true); "Russia did not try to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election" (15%); and "Democratic senators have signed on to a bill promoting an 'open borders' immigration policy" (15%).

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