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Hurricane Katrina? Thanks, Obama!

Hurricane Katrina? Thanks, Obama! August 23, 2013

Public Policy Polling has a new poll out with a rather startling result. In a survey of Louisiana voters, more Republicans in that state blame Obama for the federal response to Hurricane Katrina than blame Bush. Obama, of course, had nothing to do with it, he had just taken his seat in the Senate a few months earlier.

A significant chunk of Louisiana Republicans evidently believe that President Barack Obama is to blame for the poor response to the hurricane that ravaged their state more than three years before he took office.

The latest survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, provided exclusively to TPM, showed an eye-popping divide among Republicans in the Bayou State when it comes to accountability for the government’s post-Katrina blunders.

Twenty-eight percent said they think former President George W. Bush, who was in office at the time, was more responsible for the poor federal response while 29 percent said Obama, who was still a freshman U.S. Senator when the storm battered the Gulf Coast in 2005, was more responsible. Nearly half of Louisiana Republicans — 44 percent — said they aren’t sure who to blame.

Now, this is to some extent a “gotcha” poll question. They only gave two options, Bush or Obama, when they could have also asked about the mayor, the government, the state’s representatives in Congress, FEMA and so forth. But it still says something very disturbing about how people form opinions on important questions. We all are prone to tribalism, confirmation biases and all the other ways that our brains subvert our rationality, but it should also be clear that most people (and not just these particular Republicans) do not base their political beliefs on rational thinking at all.


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