14 September 2012

Surveying OIP Derangement Syndrome

Earlier this month Public Policy Polling released surveys of voters in Ohio (PDF) and North Carolina (PDF) that included this question:
Who do you think deserves more credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden: Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?
Barack Obama was, of course, the President who gave the order for the attack on bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad. The commander-in-chief who chose a commando raid rather than an airstrike to be more sure of the result. The chief executive during the preceding two years of military and intelligence operations that had finally tracked down the terrorism organizer.

All that time Mitt Romney was preparing to run for President again. He’s never worked in the federal government, the military, the intelligence field (to our knowledge), or law enforcement. He has no connection whatsoever to the bin Laden raid.

So the choice of which of those two men has more responsibility for the death of bin Laden should be ludicrously obvious. Public Policy Polling explained the rationale for such a silly question on Twitter: “It was to see if Republicans were willing to give Obama credit for anything”.

And the upshot? By a big margin most people responding to PPP’s automated questionnaires gave Obama more credit. But in Ohio, 62% of the Republicans surveyed wouldn’t answer that President Obama deserves the most credit. In North Carolina, that figure was 71%. Both figures include 15% of Republicans who answered that Romney deserves more credit. The rest of the Republicans took a hard look at the question above and answered “I don’t know.”

There was a similar result in the groups that labeled themselves Somewhat and Very Conservative, with reluctance to give the President credit ranging from 59% to 68%. There were some distinctions by sex and racial category, but only minor differences in age.

Now it should be perfectly possible to oppose President Obama’s policies while acknowledging that he deserves more credit for this one event than a man who wasn’t involved at all. But not when one is suffering from OIP Derangement Syndrome.

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