Rasmussen: Only 23% believe embassy sieges related to YouTube video

posted at 11:21 am on September 24, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

When a false narrative collapses, it tends to accelerate on the way down.  Just eight days after UN Ambassador Susan Rice went on five Sunday talk shows to insist that the sacking of our consulate in Benghazi and the murder of our ambassador resulted from a protest over a YouTube video that “spun out of control,” only 23% of likely voters buy that argument in Rasmussen’s latest poll.  In fact, two-thirds think it was “very likely” a preplanned terrorist attack — as evidence has begun to show:

Most voters think the recent protests at U.S. embassies in the Middle East were pre-planned and not a reaction to an anti-Islamic video on YouTube. They also believe overwhelmingly that terrorists are likely to have been involved in the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% of Likely U.S. Voters feel that the recent embassy protests largely have been planned in advance. Just 23% think they were spontaneous reactions to the anti-Islamic video. Nineteen percent (19%) are not sure.  (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of military veterans and 54% of those who have not served in uniform agree that the protests mostly have been planned in advance. But there’s a partisan gap as there is on most questions this election year: 79% of Republicans and 54% of voters not affiliated with either major party believe the protests were pre-planned, but Democrats are almost evenly divided.

Eighty-five percent (85%) of all voters believe it is likely that terrorists were involved in the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya, with 65% who think it is Very Likely. Just six percent (6%) say terrorist involvement in the ambassador’s murder is not very or Not At All Likely.

A peek at the internals is instructive.  Only one demographic has a majority which backs the Obama administration’s original spin on this story — the political class, with 50% agreeing that the embassy attacks are spontaneous and prompted by the video.  Only 37% of Democrats buy that explanation; every other demographic except black voters (37/40), liberals (38/38), and those unsure of their ideology (22/34) and unsure of their military experience (!) (37/44) have majorities or pluralities rejecting the initial White House explanation.

As for all of the statements made by the Obama administration and State Department over the YouTube video, a poll one week ago showed only 15% of voters impressed with that effort — while the White House spin still dominated the media coverage:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 72% of Likely U.S. Voters believe it is more important for the United States to guarantee freedom of speech. Only 15% consider it more important for the United States to make sure that nothing is done to offend other nations and cultures. Thirteen percent (13%) are undecided.

Sizable majorities feel this way across partisan, age, religious and other demographic categories.

The majority (58%) of all voters also continues to believe the United States should leave things alone in the Islamic world. Twenty-five percent (25%) disagree and think America should do more to encourage the growth of democracy in Islamic nations. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure.

Adding it all up, it shows that voters don’t think the Obama administration’s response adds up.  And if 85% of likely voters believe that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist attack, the White House will have to answer the questions that flow from that conclusion — which is why they weren’t prepared for it on the anniversary of the original 9/11 attacks.


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