WASHINGTON ― Unemployed supporters of Donald Trump vastly overestimate the U.S. unemployment rate, according to a new survey that is helpful for understanding Trump’s fact-free rise to the top of the Republican Party.
Jobless Trump supporters were likelier than their Hillary Clinton-backing counterparts to say the unemployment rate is 15 percent or higher, The Washington Post’s political science blog Monkey Cage reported Wednesday.
The U.S. unemployment rate currently stands at 5 percent, though Trump himself has frequently said the official number is bogus.
“Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment,” Trump has said, wrongly. “The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent.”
Told the jobless rate is more like 5 percent, about a third of Trump supporters in the Monkey Cage survey chose the gloomier assessment of 15 percent or higher, which was shared by about a third of respondents in a control group that was not given factual information. Nearly 40 percent of Trump supporters not given any cues chose the 15 percent rate, which was the highest researchers offered.
When respondents were asked about the jobless rate after being given an angrier political framing ― one that said politicians are to blame for unemployment ― fully 45 percent of Trump supporters put the rate at 15 percent or higher. Only 26 percent of Clinton supporters cited the higher unemployment rate after being given the angry framing.
These findings led the trio of researchers who conducted the survey to an insight that helps explain the popularity of a candidate who constantly spews untrue statements.
“Factual appraisals appear to be driven by emotional reactions and candidate attachments, rather than by pure information,” S. Erdem Aytaç, Eli Rau and Susan Stokes wrote for the Post.
The study is based on a survey of 1,000 unemployed Americans over several days in October.