By now you’ve probably seen the report that a new poll out of Ohio found that 15% of very conservative voters said Mitt Romney was more responsible for Osama Bin Laden’s death than President Obama, with another 6% of moderate conservatives agreeing. (More than half of each group said they weren’t sure who should get more credit.)
Cue wringing of hands and mocking of conservatives. But I love their answer, and here’s why.
When Osama Bin Laden was killed, Barack Obama was the commander in chief of the military that killed him. Mitt Romney was adjusting to his new campaign wardrobe of open-collar shirts. And of course it’s not as if he did any of the prep work for the mission in his previous roles as Winter Olympics CEO, Massachusetts governor, or failed Senate candidate.
But here’s the thing. The folks who gave him credit for killing Bin Laden know all this stuff, or at least most of them do. They didn’t give the answer they did because they thought Romney was a member of Seal Team Six.
They gave that answer because it’s an idiotic question.
Romney had nothing to do with the Bin Laden mission. Nobody, even in the fever swamps of conspiracism, has ever claimed otherwise. The only reason to ask the question as framed is to poke at Romney supporters in the hope that they’ll either say something nice about the president or look dumb by refusing to.
Consider this: The folks at PPP could have asked whether Obama or Bush had more to do with the killing of Bin Laden. Or they could have offered “neither” as an answer, to represent folks who believe that the military would have done its thing whoever occupied the Oval Office. They didn’t. Instead they offered “not sure,” a nonsensical option that 31% of the Ohio electorate chose.
That’s right. Faced with a question that’s the political equivalent of “is the sky blue?” nearly a third of Ohioans, and more than ten percent of liberals, said they didn’t know. That’s not ignorance, it’s pollster nullification.
Four percent of non-conservatives polled gave Romney credit for the Bin Laden kill, by the way. I like to think that I’d have been among them.