Donald Trump and Agrabah

Public Policy Polling published the results of a recent poll of 532 Republican primary voters.  Among other results, Trump is polling around 40% and 26% of respondents believe Islam should be illegal in the United States.

Now, I’m not a Trump supporter, but supporting him is a matter of personal preference.  If you want to support him, go nuts.  I think he’s terrible (because he’s actually terrible).  Also, I’ll just leave this right here:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

 

But what really caught my attention was the final question in the poll (which is being written about all over the place right now here, here, and here, for instance):

Q38 Would you support or oppose bombing Agrabah?

The thing to note here is that Agrabah isn’t areal place.  It’s the fictional kingdom in Disney’s Aladdin.  Even so, 30% of the Republican respondents responded that they would be in support of this, while only 13% opposed this (57% were “not sure”).  PPP also broke down this question by which candidate they supported, and I’ve made a nice little mosaic plot to display it.  Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 1.59.35 PM.png

Green is support, red is opposed, and gray is not sure.  The largest green rectangle are Trump supporter who supported this question.  To re-iterate those are people who support xenophobic sweet potato Donald Trump for president AND support bombing a fictional Disney kingdom.

On the other hand, I think asking question like this isn’t helpful.  No one likes to be made to feel stupid and asking a question like this seems to have the intention of pointing out how stupid people are.  Then we can all collectively laugh at how stupid people are.  But what good does that do anyone?  It makes these people feel like they are being talked down and condescended to.  And that’s kind of shitty.  Is there a legitimate reason to ask question like this?

Cheers.

 

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Posted on December 18, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I was caught off guard by ~20% of Paul supporters wanting to bomb a made up country, since he is the most anti-war candidate on the list. Looking into it, he is fetching 1% of the 532 vote sample. Does that mean that they are basing Paul’s results off a group of about 5 supporters and passing it off as a representation of the whole group? If so this seems irresponsible on PPP’s part. If not I’d like to know what I’m missing here. (I don’t know all that much about the adjustments they make for these sorts of polls, so any insight on methodology would be helpful.)

  2. The question responses don’t capture the range of possible responses. Most specifically, there’s no answer option for those people who *do* know that it’s not a real place. So it ends up being a trap.

  3. I do think that there is a legitimate reason to ask the intentionally stupidity-illuminating question about Agrabah. The concept of a democracy where the public votes for its representatives is predicated on the idea of an informed public. Ideally people who are familiar with the stands of the candidates and the current events of the world make informed decisions over who he or she feels will best defend one’s interests. This question reveals (based on this sample of course), the percentage of voters are far from informed. It highlights the tragic flaw in the American democratic system; the average American voter does not live up to the standard of “informed public.” And the idea that those members of the uninformed public have a role in who decides who holds roles of governmental authority terrifies me.

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