Fact Check: Did 60% of Democrats Say They Wouldn't Fight if U.S. Was Invaded?

Social media users are claiming a poll showed that the majority of Democrats would choose to flee if the U.S. was invaded, while the bulk of Republicans would stay and fight.

The Claim

A post on the r/conservative subreddit shared a chart from American Gun Facts, a website advocating for gun rights in the U.S., which was citing a recent Quinnipiac University poll.

"60% of Democrats say they wouldn't fight if America was invaded," the post published Tuesday stated.

Numerous Twitter users also cited the poll, including Donald Trump Jr., who wrote:

"Democrats hate America [...] No one should be surprised that the majority of Dems wouldn't fight for their country if invaded."

The Facts

The claims that Democrats would choose to leave, unlike most Republicans, are indeed based on a genuine poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, that surveyed 1,374 U.S. adults across the country.

But the interpretations of its results, which Newsweek reported on in early March, are somewhat misleading and, in some cases, disingenuous.

First, the 60 percent figure some referred to is factually incorrect. It appears to be an extrapolation from the graph, which cites just "40 percent of Democrats" as willing to fight. But with 8 percent responding "don't know," the actual number is 52 percent.

Second, and a more important caveat, is the phrasing of the question. Question number 8 in the poll reads as follows:

"If you were in the same position as Ukrainians are now, do you think that you would stay and fight or leave the country?"

The distinction is significant because of the unenviable position that Ukraine has found itself in, facing a much more numerous and better-armed military, while not having the benefit of NATO protection (which the U.S., as a key member of the alliance, would have).

Equating the objective evaluation of the risks of staying in Ukraine, a country under siege, to 'abandoning' the U.S., a country with the world's most powerful military, is, at best, misleading.

Furthermore, the question can be interpreted as 'if you were a local citizen in Ukraine now, would you stay or flee?' This interpretation is supported by the preceding question, which addresses the level of support for Ukrainian refugees entering the U.S.

If that is indeed how responders understood Question 8, then it would be entirely inappropriate to extrapolate the American public's reaction to a domestic assault of a similar nature from their response to a non-American hypothetical.

Indirect evidence of this crucial distinction can be surmised from question number 12 in the poll, which shows far more bipartisan cohesion.

"As you may know, the United States is a member of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Its collective defense treaty states that an attack on one NATO country is an attack on all NATO countries. If Russian President Vladimir Putin goes beyond Ukraine and attacks a NATO country, would you support or oppose a military response from the United States?"

In this hypothetical, 88 percent of Democrats were supportive of a military response, more than both Independents (77 percent) and Republicans (82 percent).

Tim Malloy, the author of the Quinnipiac poll, told Newsweek that the question was gauging personal views, not one party or one person's courage or patriotism over another.

"The hypothetical question sought to ask Americans if they were facing the same level of crisis and circumstances as the Ukrainians are facing, would they remain and fight or would they leave?" Malloy explained in an email.

He also added that an argument could be made that those attributes are as evident in refugees leaving everything behind and spiriting children across the border as they are with those who stay to fight.

The Ruling

Fact Check - False

False.

The sweeping claim that 60 percent of Democrats wouldn't stay and fight if America was invaded is not an accurate reflection of the underlying poll. The original poll question offered a very narrow hypothetical involving Americans being in "Ukrainians' situation," who find themselves in a country on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

FACT CHECK BY NEWSWEEK

Ukraine refugees in Poland fleeing the war
People wait at Przemysl train station before continuing their journey from war-torn Ukraine on March 23, 2022 in Przemysl, Poland. Nearly two-thirds of the more than 3 million people to have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion last month have come to Poland, which shares a 310-mile border with its eastern neighbor. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
False: The claim is demonstrably false. Primary source evidence proves the claim to be false.
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