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Conspiracy theories, Congress and 2014, and new isolationism: AEI Political Report, November 2013

Conspiracy theories, Congress and 2014, and new isolationism: AEI Political Report, November 2013

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Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, this issue of Political Report examines public views on a number of events that elicit conspiracy theories, including the belief that more than one person was involved in the assassination of JFK. The issue also examines record negativity in congressional approval polls, new streaks of isolationism in the American public, and significant indicators for the 2014 congressional midterm elections.

* Even as early as November of 1963, people had doubts as to whether Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole shooter of JFK. Sixty-two percent told the National Opinion Research Center that other people were involved in the assassination. In an April 2013 poll, 59 percent said others were involved.

* Around 6 percent of the population believes the moon landing was a hoax.

* Seventy-seven percent of Americans in a 2013 poll said it is very or somewhat desirable that the United States exert strong leadership in world affairs.

* In the ABC News/Washington Post poll, approval of Congress was at a 40-year low. Republicans in Congress saw their ratings slide, but the Democrats in the body had low ratings, too.

* Ten congressional districts have been represented by at least five different officeholders in the past decade.
Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, this issue of Political Report examines public views on a number of events that elicit conspiracy theories, including the belief that more than one person was involved in the assassination of JFK. The issue also examines record negativity in congressional approval polls, new streaks of isolationism in the American public, and significant indicators for the 2014 congressional midterm elections.

* Even as early as November of 1963, people had doubts as to whether Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole shooter of JFK. Sixty-two percent told the National Opinion Research Center that other people were involved in the assassination. In an April 2013 poll, 59 percent said others were involved.

* Around 6 percent of the population believes the moon landing was a hoax.

* Seventy-seven percent of Americans in a 2013 poll said it is very or somewhat desirable that the United States exert strong leadership in world affairs.

* In the ABC News/Washington Post poll, approval of Congress was at a 40-year low. Republicans in Congress saw their ratings slide, but the Democrats in the body had low ratings, too.

* Ten congressional districts have been represented by at least five different officeholders in the past decade.

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Published by: American Enterprise Institute on Nov 07, 2013
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Political Repor
Conspiracy Theories
Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the belief that more than one person was involved in his assassination remains the most widely held conspiracy theory in America. In an April 2013 poll, 59 percent said others were involved. In this issue of AEI’s
Political Report 
, we look at public views on a number of events that elicit conspiracy theories, from Franklin Roosevelt’s purported knowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor to the belief that Osama bin Laden is alive. Comparisons across events are difficult with polls taken at different points in time, but it does not appear that any particular demographic group is more inclined to believe in conspiracy theories than any other.
The JFK Assassination
Q: Do you think . . . ?
1963
The assassination of President Kennedy was the work of just one man 24%There were other people involved, too 62Don’t know 14
Source: National Opinion Research Center, November–December 1963.
Q: I’m going to read some ways that some people felt when they first heard that the President John F. Kennedy was dead, and I’d like you to tell me which one of the statements on this card comes closest to your own feelings at the time . . .
————————————1963———————————— Some Communist A segregationist or other radical to get or extreme rid of the President right-winger
Very deepest feeling that it was done by 13% 8%Felt it quite deeply 15 10Crossed my mind but not deeply 40 32Never occurred to me 32 50
Source: National Opinion Research Center, November–December 1963.
Q: Turning now to the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, there have been many theories about who was involved in the assassination. I’d like to know if you think any of the following were involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Do you think . . . ?
 
2003 Was not
Lyndon Johnson was involved in the assassination 18% 75% The Mafia 37 56The CIA 34 60The Soviet Union 15 77Cubans 15 78
Note: Each category asked of a half sample.Source: Gallup, November 2003.
Volume 9, Issue 10 • November 2013
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1150 Seventeenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036 202.862.5800 www.aei.org
 
1150 Seventeenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036 202.862.5800 www.aei.org
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Q: Do you think . . . ?
2003
We know all the facts about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy 14%There was a cover-up 74
Source: Fox News, October 2003.
Q: There has been significant speculation about the circumstances surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Which statement do you agree with more?
 
2012
Source: University of Virginia/Hart Research, May 2012.
Q: Do you think . . . ?
2013
One man was responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy 24% Others were involved in a conspiracy 59Don’t know 16
Source: AP-GfK/Roper, April 2013.
Pearl Harbor
Q: Here are several accusations that some people have made against the federal government in recent years. Please tell me if you think each of these is very likely, somewhat likely, or unlikely . . . ?
1997
Very likely that President Roosevelt knew in advance that the Japanese were going to bomb Pearl Harbor, but he did not warn our troops because he wanted to get the United States involved in World War II 16%Somewhat likely 26Unlikely 43
Source: Scripps Howard/Ohio University, June 1997.
Waco
Q: Do you think . . . ?
1999
There has been an official cover-up by the government or the FBI to keep the public from learning the truth about the events in Waco 62%No cover up 25Don’t know 12
Source: CBS News, October 1999.
There is nothing left to know about the circumstances surrounding the Kennedy assassination. Lee Harvey Oswald acted on his own to assassinate the President, and there was no conspiracy 25%There are still too many questions surrounding Kennedy’s assassination to say that Lee Harvey Oswald acted by himself, or that there is not a larger conspiracy regarding the details of his death 75%
 
1150 Seventeenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036 202.862.5800 www.aei.org
3
Aliens
Q: Do you . . . ?
2013
Believe a UFO crashed at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947, and the government covered it up 21% Do not believe 47Not sure 32
Source: Public Policy Polling, March 2013.
Q: Some Americans feel that flying saucers are real and that the federal government is hiding the truth about them from us. Do you think . . . ?
2007
It’s very likely that flying saucers are real and that the federal government is hiding the truth about them from us 11%Somewhat likely 24Not likely 55
Source: Scripps Howard/Ohio University, September 2007.
MLK Assassination
Q: Do you think . . . ?
————Asked of African Americans, 1969————
Martin Luther King’s assassination was the result of a conspiracy 82%It was the act of one man only 5Not sure 13
Source: Gallup, May 1969.
Q: Do you think . . . ?
——Responses of—— African National response, 2008 Americans Whites
The assassination of Martin Luther King was the act of one individual 33% 9% 40%Part of a larger conspiracy 55 88 50
Source: CNN/ 
Essence
, March 2008.
Moon Landing 
Q: Do you . . . ?
2013
Believe the moon landing was faked 7%Do not believe 84Not sure 9
Source: Public Policy Polling, March 2013.

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