Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Donald Trump And The Case Of The Elusive Scottish Poll

Trump has said for years that 93% of people in Aberdeen support his golf course there. That poll has long eluded those who have tried to track it down.

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Donald Trump's obsession with polls has been a running theme of his presidential campaign and not just when he's touting the latest numbers that show him leading the pack of Republican candidates. Trump has also cited questionable polls to support his statements, like one from an anti-Muslim think-tank that he used to back his call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

Another example, less-known on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, is Trump's claim that 93% of people in Aberdeen, Scotland support him and the golf resort he built there.

That poll has long eluded those who have tried to track it down.

In Scotland, the construction of Trump's golf course and resort was the subject of much controversy, as local residents accused Trump of bullying them out of their property, while environmental groups were concerned about the adverse effect of the project on the area's wildlife and dunes.

In the face of controversy, Trump claimed to enjoy the overwhelming support of the public. "I see polls showing 93% in favour" of the plan to build a golf resort, he said in 2008, according to the Yorkshire Post, a British paper. "I have never seen polls in the 80s and 90s like this," he added.

In 2010, a BBC documentary showed numerous clips of the real estate mogul saying things like: "93% of the people in Aberdeen were in favor of this job", "As you know, we have 93% approval rating in the polls", "93%, that's almost impossible," and "I've never even heard of 93."

The BBC couldn't find any poll that showed 93% support. Trump said the poll was "from one of the newspapers" and that he would produce it for them, but he never did, nor did anyone from the Trump Organization.

"93% is typical of the results of countless polls," a Trump spokesperson told the BBC.

Trump did receive one positive poll result in December 2007 from a local Aberdeen paper, which also petitioned in support of Trump's plan. The poll showed 80% support for the golf resort and almost 80% agreement that a local government's initial decision to block the plan had damaged the reputation of the Scottish Northeast. The Trump Organization's head of international development called the numbers "very solid figures."

But Trump has always claimed 93% support.

Other polls showed that a majority of people actually opposed the project. Apoll of Scottish opinion on the project, commissioned by the Scottish Green Party in 2010, showed 64% opposed to it.

And one other poll, conducted by a newspaper in 2013, showed that 67% of respondents disagreed with Trump's opposition to the construction of a wind farm near the golf course.

In 2014, Trump's claim of 93 support changed slightly, as he portrayed the number as his own regional approval rating. "I have a 93 positive rating in that part of the world," Trump said, according to a story last year in the UK paper, The Telegraph. "It's a great relationship."

Similarly, he told Golf Digest last October, "Look, 93% of the people in Aberdeen love me." Trump's interviewer for that story was, like the BBC, unable to confirm the existence of such a poll.

When BuzzFeed News e-mailed a spokesperson for his campaign to ask about the elusive Scottish poll, she did not reply.

Whatever Trump's real level of support in Scotland, there was one sign on Wednesday that it may be on the decline: first minister Nicola Sturgeon stripped him of his role as an ambassador for Scottish business.

"Mr Trump's recent remarks have shown that he is no longer fit to be a business ambassador for Scotland and the first minister has decided his membership of the respected GlobalScot business network should be withdrawn with immediate effect," a statement from the Scottish government said.


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