Americans are very willing to believe negative statements about political candidates they oppose, a new survey shows.
According to the Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind national poll released Tuesday, nearly 90 percent of supporters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton believe conspiracy theories that smear the candidate they don't like.
The poll finds, for example, a majority of Trump's supporters believe that President Barack Obama is "definitely" — 24 percent — or "possibly" — 43 percent — hiding important information about his background and early life. Fourteen percent of Clinton supporters fit into either category.
Also, 86 percent of Clinton supporters say it's at least possible that Trump is refusing to release his tax returns because they'd show close financial ties to Russia; 46 percent of Trump supporters think that's "possibly" true, the survey shows.
Of Trump supporters, 90 percent say Clinton "definitely" or "possibly" knew the attacks on U.S. personnel in Benghazi, Libya, were going to happen, and did nothing to prevent them; 35 percent of Clinton supporters say the same.
"Partisanship is a powerful driver of beliefs," said said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and an analyst for pollster. "There have been no serious allegations that Clinton knew the diplomatic compound in Benghazi was going to be attacked, but people are willing to believe it anyway."
In other findings:
- 60 percent of Trump's supporters say global warming is a myth concocted by scientists; in general, 40 percent of all Americans believe it's "definitely" or "possibly" true; 28 percent among Clinton's supporters express that view.
- 40 percent of all Americans think it's "definitely" or "possibly" true that President George W. Bush knew about the 9/11 terrorist attacks beforehand; 27 percent of African Americans say he knew beforehand, and 34 percent think it's possible; 8 percent of white respondents think he definitely knew about the attacks in advance.
- 18 percent of Americans think it's "definitely" true the government creates overseas conflicts to benefit the military-industrial complex; 43 percent says it's "possibly" true.
- 24 percent of Americans think it's at least possible the 2012 school murders in Sandy Hook, Conn., were faked in order to increase support for gun control. Clinton and Trump supporters are about equally likely to believe this, but 33 percent percent of independent voters say its "definitely" or "possibly" true.
The poll's overall margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
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