Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Never Bet Against The American People Being Dumb

Washington Post political reporter Chris Cillizza is shocked -- SHOCKED! -- to discover that Pew Research's annual reminder showing that Americans are a majority of low-information meatheads when it comes to politics is still showing Americans are low-information meatheads.

The Pew Research Center spent the last month collecting data on responses to its 12-question news quiz. And the results are, um, humbling for those of us who spend every day writing, talking and thinking about politics. 
The overriding message? People don't know so much about current affairs with political tinge. Here are two examples. 
1. The Senate 

Presented with four options about the current partisan makeup of the Senate, roughly half (52 percent) got the answer right. (It's option number 4 above. Duh.) 
Pretty good, right? Not so much. Consider that a straight-up guess would give you a 25 percent success rate since Pew provided four options for people to choose from. Given that, you'd (or maybe I'd) expect a lot more people to get it right. What did the 48 percent who got it wrong choose? One in five people (21 percent) said that Republicans controlled 61 seats while one in ten thought Democrats held the Senate majority (option #3). Six percent said the Senate was tied 50-50. 
2. Elizabeth Warren

Again, roughly half (51 percent) of those who participated in the news quiz knew that Warren was the woman pictured on the lower left above. Ok, so, yes, Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin (top right) does look a little bit like Warren. But, Nancy Pelosi (bottom right but you already knew that) looks nothing like Warren. And, even if you have no idea who Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) is (top left), she still looks NOTHING like Warren.

Your average American got 8 out of 12 right (you can take the quiz here) with older Americans doing slightly better than Millennials.  But after a midterm where only a third of voters bothered to even show up, why is Cillizza in any way shocked at these numbers?  Americans have tuned out politics for the last several years, and the "both sides do it" and "view from nowhere" style of political reporting that carefully assigns blame and fault to all politicians rather than the ones who are actually responsible has achieved the desired effect of making Americans completely apathetic about political issues.

Cillizza wants to know why so many Americans are ignorant about basic politics?

They probably read The Fix.


Martin Pollard said...

12 out of 12, scoring better than 90% of the population (who took the quiz), and I already knew the answer to both of the questions that were highlighted. Either I'm extremely well informed, or I read too damn many political blogs. Or both. :-)

Horace Boothroyd III said...

Aproposito de Stupid, Bernie Sanders is allegedly going to announce later today his candidacy for the Democratic Nomination. The Sanderistas are sqeeing like so many Krazy Kat Ladeez, half because they think he is going to win it all and half because they think this will fix Hillary's wagon but good.

Now Bernie is a nice enough guy, if a bit right wing for my tastes, and it's hardly his fault that he was elected by a gang of inbred troglodytes to represent a state that is just a bit less of a joke than Wyoming. But if he doesn't pick up serious followers with serious commitment and do it real fast, this could become a bigger joke than Harold Stassen: the current crop style themselves radicals supporting the new McGovern, where in reality they are a gang of space hippies chanting HERBERT! HERBERT! HERBERT!

Anyway, I am still deeply concern that we are going to blow it and lose the whole ball of wax come 2016.

On a happier note, 12 for 12 - as I suspect will be the case for all of your loyal readers.

And I am damned glad that that toxic witch, Sandra Day O'Connor, is no longer around to stink up the court as woman number four. She disgraced herself, and the Court, and the Nation, when she threw the Presidency to Bush because she did not want Gore to pick her replacement.

Scopedog said...

Nice to reference STAR TREK (TOS) there, Horace....:)

And while I like Senator Sanders, I'm just at the end of my rope when it comes to reading the verbal bukakke that is going on at various sites in lieu of Sander's announcement. Somehow, to these folks, it's Hillary who is the worst thing ever, even worse than the 2016 GOP crop, and Sanders will boot her off the field and march into the White House prepared to change everything with a wave of his hand.

On the other hand, Senator Sanders does not have problem of the overblown ego that Nader had back in 2000. And he supports

Of course, that won't happen. And notice that there is no plan in regards to taking Congress back from the GOP. Granted, I'm sure Hillary has an idea, but...

However, let's not kid ourselves that everyone on the side of the Left That Hasn't Learned A Damned Thing will fall behind Senator Sanders. He does not have problem of the overblown ego that Nader had back in 2000. And he supports the Democrats and President Obama pretty much 90-95% of the time. Unlike many who fly into frothing rage blaming the President for gridlock, Sanders has repeatedly pointed out that it's the GOP that has gummed up the works, and the best way to deal with that is to elect more Democrats. Of course, that may take the shine of him, in the minds of purists:

As always, notice the usual suspects.

Horace Boothroyd III said...

Usual suspects is right: watching Jane Hamsher be eaten by sharks would put a certain spring in my stride, and anyone who would hurl the word technofascist - unironically - at President Obama understands neither technology nor Fascism. A group that, unfortunately, encompasses an overlarge bin of the gibbering class.

The larger point is clear: Sanders has a narrow window of opportunity, within which to accomplish what he is trying to do, before the elwiors grow weary or take offense or simply become bored with it all. Your observation, that no one has any program for taking back the Congress, speaks volumes: it's all about following some magical leftist in the hope that he will set things right for us.

Which is one of the aspects that I find deeply disturbing: I am grown up enough to understand that nobody is going to lift a finger to help me because he is nice or it is the right thing to do. What works is numbers, and organization, and analysis, and an effective long term strategy. You earn your place at the table by working - for decades if need be - towards that final victory. The people who show up late will a slice, there is plenty for everyone, but those with a record of active sabotage will not be greeted with smiles.

On that note, over at Raw Story the epsilon minus submorons are chattering away about the prospect of a Bernie Sanders/Jill Stein Red/Green fusion ticket. Joy! Sanders is OK, Stein is an idiot. Her primary contribution to American history is running the spoiler campaign that foisted Governor Mitt Romney upon the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Thus she is the grandmother of the zombie lie that "ObamaCare is just like RomneyCare which is a Repulican concept designed by the Heritage Foundation." Screw that: MassHealth was passed by Democratic supermajorities over the veto of governor weak&stupid, who then took credit for the successes because that is what politicians do.

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