Americans Who Can't Find Ukraine On A Map Are More Likely To Support Military Force In Ukraine

A poll released Monday showed that only 16 percent of Americans can locate Ukraine on a map. That’s not terribly surprising; Americans frequently lack basic knowledge about the world around them, as polls consistently demonstrate. The kicker, though, is that the people who were least able to accurately locate Ukraine were also the most likely to favor U.S. military intervention in the country.

First, respondents were asked to pinpoint Ukraine on a high-resolution map. That itself yielded some absurd responses, including Nebraska, Australia, the Falkland Islands and the middle of the ocean just north of Antarctica. The median response was around 1,800 miles away from Ukraine’s actual location, and while certain demographics gave more accurate responses than others, nobody came off particularly well. Only 29 percent of people who identified politically as independent were able to place Ukraine on a map — but that 29 percent was higher than any other demographic.

Pollsters then asked the same respondents about their attitudes toward the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. They found, with a 95 percent confidence interval, that the further people thought Ukraine was from its actual location, the more likely they were to believe that the U.S. should use military force in Ukraine. They were also more likely to say that Russia posed a threat to American national security, and that intervening militarily in Ukraine would diminish that threat.

This isn’t the first time a survey on Americans’ beliefs had embarrassing results. In a poll last year, 40 percent of Americans thought the U.S. deficit had “increased a lot” since 2010, even though it’s actually gone down by roughly 50 percent. A more recent poll showed that Americans believe a number of crazy things about technology, including 27 percent who think a “gigabyte” is a South American insect. This isn’t even getting started on conspiracy theories, or all of the people who prefer “The Affordable Care Act” to “Obamacare.”