- The Washington Times - Friday, January 27, 2017

The majority of Americans who voted for President Trump believe more people attended his inauguration last week than the anti-Trump Women’s March held the day after, according to a new poll — and a fair share believe philanthropist George Soros is to blame.

Fifty-nine percent of Trump voters insist more people attended Friday’s swearing-in than Saturday’s protest in Washington, D.C., as indicated by the results of a Public Policy Polling survey published Thursday, notwithstanding photographic evidence suggesting otherwise.

Regardless of which event drew a larger crowd, more than a third of Trump supporters polled said there’s a reason the Women’s March was as well attended as it was: 38 percent of Trump voters believe the people who participated in the post-inaugural protest were paid to attend by Mr. Soros, a Hungarian-born billionaire who frequently contributes to liberal causes.

Respondents were asked among other questions if they believed that most of the women who protested Saturday were paid to do so by Mr. Soros — an unfounded allegation echoed in the aftermath of the weekend’s festivities by conservative commentators such as Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck.

Only 17 percent of individuals surveyed said they thought Women’s March protesters were paid by Mr. Soros. When pollsters divided respondents by their preferred presidential candidate, however, it became clear that more than a third of Trump supporters believe Saturday’s participants were paid to attend: Only 1 percent of respondents who voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton told pollsters that they believed Mr. Soros had compensated protesters, compared to 38 percent of Trump voters.

Pollsters noticed a similar difference of opinion among Trump and Clinton voters when asked which event was better attended. While 54 percent of total respondents said the Women’s March had a bigger crowd, only one in five Trump voters were willing to admit the protest drew a larger audience.

Thirty-four percent of Trump voters, or roughly one in three, also told pollsters they believed Friday’s inauguration had a larger crowd than any previous presidential swearing-in. Overall, however, only 18 percent of respondents described Mr. Trump’s inauguration as the best attended in history.

“Very few Americans believe Trump’s claims about having had the biggest inauguration crowd in history,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy. “But he is at least still getting support from a plurality of his base for those lies.”

Asra Q. Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and self-described Trump supporter, claimed last week that dozens of different groups involved in Saturday’s Women’s March had connections to Mr. Soros in one form or another, spurring Mr. Soros’ critics to pounce on her report.

“That was not a spontaneous event. It was organized by far-left groups, which receive millions of dollars from the liberal activist George Soros,” Mr. O’Reilly said of the March during Monday’s episode of his Fox News television program.

“While there were many sincere women there, it was also a large AstroTurf operation paid for by Soros designed to destabilize the new president,” Trump confidante Roger Stone told the New York Post on Tuesday.

Ms. Nomani has since distanced herself from those claims, telling the Politifact website this week: “I definitely do not conclude that most of the people marching were paid to do so.”

“There is no truth to these reports,” a spokesperson for Mr. Soros’ Open Society Foundations told Politifact. “We support a wide range of organizations — including those that support women and minorities who have historically been denied equal rights. Many of whom are concerned about what policy changes may lie ahead.”

The results of the survey are based upon answer provided by 1,043 registered voters on Monday and Tuesday this week, according to PPP.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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