Tech billionaire Steve Ballmer spent $10 million to disprove a ‘rancorous’ belief about Democrats and Republicans

Tech billionaire Steve Ballmer thinks it’s high time that the US works together to solve our issues.

The former Microsoft CEO, and current LA Clippers owner, is single-handedly trying to get the nation back to a common sense discussion on government-based on facts.

He shelled $10 million of his own money to build a website called USAFacts, which takes the government’s own data on everything from crime to taxes and makes it available, and digestible, to ordinary citizens.

But, as Americans know these days, there seems to be a war on facts, where things that are probably untrue are presented to people as if they were facts.

So, Ballmer and his USAFacts team commissioned an online poll, conducted by Harris Insight and Analytics, to survey thousands of Americans from all states, rural and urban, and ask them their thoughts about facts. Over 2,500 Americans participated in the poll, evenly split between Democrats, Republicans, independents, and across age groups.

Steve Ballmer

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Steve Ballmer
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Business Insider

The shocking news: there is nearly uniform consensus across every affiliation and demographic on the nature of government facts. People get their facts from similar places, agree on the sources to question, and desire to learn more facts about the same issues.

When Ballmer saw the results, he was “heartened,” he tells Business Insider.

“In the daily rancorous world of politics, you would think, some days, that people can’t agree on anything. But people in various ages and political situations all seem to be interested in understanding the facts. And all have some view that if you can get informed, you can get closer together.”

The poll uncovered a number of surprising tidbits that show just how closely aligned Americans really are when it comes to facts about government.


The poll surveyed 2,521 people evenly spit across age groups, political affiliations (Democrats/Republicans/independents), rural/urban areas. So it pretty fairly represents people from all walks of American life.

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The poll found that Republicans, Democrats and independents prefer facts and figures about their government, rather than stories and anecdotes, with at least 88% in every affiliation agreeing on this.

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BIAUS

78% of people said they preferred written analysis about government finances, rather than raw data.

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David McNew/Reuters

Here’s the breakdown by political affiliation:

Democrat: 83%

Republican: 77%

No party affiliation: 72%


Most respondents get their information about the government from the media, including news sites, TV, and radio.

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Gemma LaMana / Paramount Pictures

Here’s the breakdown by political affiliation:

Democrat: 89%

Republican: 80%

No party affiliation: 85%


But hardly anyone said they relied on the most partisan media sites for government facts: Fox News and MSNBC. Democrats were also more likely to rely on social media sites for government news.

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Thomson Reuters

Here’s the breakdown by political affiliation:

Democrat: 40%

Republican: 30%


No one from any party affiliation said they got their facts about the government from President Trump’s tweets.


Americans are skeptical about nearly all the facts they get about the government, with three-quarters across the board saying their sources for facts are biased.

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REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

Slightly more Republicans believe their sources for government facts are biased. Still, the majority of people feel this way.

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Thomson Reuters

Here’s the breakdown by political affiliation:

Democrat: 72%

Republican: 81%

No party affiliation: 76%


Americans also believe that data from the federal government is unclear and possibly biased. The stats are similar for the data coming from state and local governments.

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Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Here’s the breakdown by political affiliation:

Democrat: 74%

Republican: 72%

No party affiliation: 79%


If people have qualms trusting their current sources of government information, where do they want their information to come from?

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Flickr/vickysandoval22

Nearly everyone wants government information to be based on data (over 90% of Democrats and Republicans) and they want it to come from a non-partisan source (over 81% across the board).

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Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Data verified by academic institutions is trusted more by Democrats than by Republicans. Data verified by the media is more trusted by Democrats than Republicans and data verified by businesses are slightly more trusted by Republicans than by Democrats.

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Jodi Hilton/Getty Images

Here’s the breakdown by political affiliation:

Data verified by academic institutions:

Democrat: 88%

Republican: 67%

Data verified by the media:

Democrat: 70%

Republican: 40%

Data verified by businesses:

Democrat: 57%

Republican: 65%


Yet, people from all party affiliations also agree that we need to use the same data to have “informed debates about the future of our country.”

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cnbc/screengrab

Here’s the breakdown by political affiliation:

Democrat: 89%

Republican: 90%

No party affiliation: 86%


As for the political issues that Americans want to see more government data on, at the top of everyone’s list is health care, the economy, and taxes (over 90% on each of these across all political affiliations).

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Spotmatik Ltd/Shutterstock

Other topics of interest in which respondent prefer more facts and less rhetoric: Social Security and Medicare, which scored at nearly 90% or above across all affiliations.

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Allison Shelley/Getty Images

Americans are least interested in government data about marriage and divorce (below 50% across all political affiliations).

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Prayitno/Flickr

Americans are concerned that we aren’t doing a good enough job educating our kids on how our government works and how citizens can participate. More than 75% of every respondents across political affiliations believe civic education is fair or poor. Just 23% said it was good or excellent.

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Flickr via wwworks

Not surprisingly, people across all affiliations feel that ‘people generally only believe facts that fit their beliefs.’ 88% or more in each affiliation agreed with that statement.

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bark/Flickr

But the best bit of news in Ballmer’s war to save facts: People say that they can and do change their minds when they learn more facts about a situation.

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Mike Segar/Reuters

Here’s the breakdown by political affiliation:

Democrat: 82%

Republican: 80%

No party affiliation: 79%


Democrats and Republicans “can agree that decisions should be made in the same way,” Ballmer says. He finds that encouraging.”It’s a reminder to keep charging ahead,” he said.