New Research Finds that Fact-Checking Doesn't Work with Trump Supporters
A new study by Brendan Nyhan of the University of Michigan, Ethan Porter of George Washington University, Jason Reifler of the University of Exeter and Thomas J. Wood of Ohio State found that Trump supporters continued to back the President even after finding out that many of his claims during the 2016 election were false.
Springer Publishing: "We present results to two experiments conducted during the 2016 campaign that test the effects of exposure to realistic journalistic fact-checks of claims made by Donald Trump during his convention speech and a general election debate. These messages improved the accuracy of respondents’ factual beliefs, even among his supporters, but had no measurable effect on attitudes toward Trump."...
Simply put, even after the test subjects realized that Trump repeatedly lied during the campaign they continued to support his election. That really isn't surprising. We wrote an article last year on this phenomena titled "Trump Lies as a Form of "Performance Art" and today the President still maintains support in the 30-40% range even as his "misstatements of fact" have increased. His supporters simply don't care that he lies constantly because they don't take his statements literally.
Illuminate: "To his supporters, Trump's lies are "performance art", a flamboyant display of his aversion to the smug intellectuals, and snide journalists that they abhor. And they love that he "lies big" in the face of overwhelming evidence that he is just making things up."
"A recent study reported by USA Today helps to explain all this. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon and MIT found that "Trump supporters were more enthusiastic in their support of him to the extent that they justified Trump’s lie as a form of "symbolic protest." In other words, it's not what he says, but what the lie "represents". So, it's not that the FBI actually spied on his campaign, it's that they represent the "deep state" that opposed his election and are trying to foil his nationalist agenda. Likewise, it's not that Mexicans are really rapists, but that their culture and language are alien to "real Americans". "
Politicians have always been a bit loose with specifics to make a broader point, but Trump has created a new "alternative-fact" universe that fits his dark nationalist agenda and, by and large, he has gotten away with it. Fact-checking assumes that citizens will seek out the best and most current research on any given topic to assist them in making informed voting decisions, but political choices are much-more "gut-level" than that. And after years in reality television, Trump understands that better than anyone. Relentless fact-checking is certainly helpful, but if the Democrats want to take back the White House in 2020 they will need a candidate who can counter Trump's dark image of America with a positive, forward-looking vision of what Americans can achieve together.