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August 25, 2004

Scary book of the day.

"Converse claimed that only around ten per cent of the public has what can be called, even generously, a political belief system."

"Seventy per cent of Americans cannot name their senators or their congressman. Forty-nine per cent believe that the President has the power to suspend the Constitution. Only about thirty per cent name an issue when they explain why they voted the way they did, and only a fifth hold consistent opinions on issues over time. Rephrasing poll questions reveals that many people don’t understand the issues that they have just offered an opinion on."

"And voters apparently do punish politicians for acts of God. In a paper written in 2004, the Princeton political scientists Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels estimate that '2.8 million people voted against Al Gore in 2000 because their states were too dry or too wet' as a consequence of that year’s weather patterns."

"The most widely known fact about George H. W. Bush in the 1992 election was that he hated broccoli. Eighty-six per cent of likely voters in that election knew that the Bushes’ dog’s name was Millie; only fifteen per cent knew that Bush and Clinton both favored the death penalty. It’s not that people know nothing. It’s just that politics is not what they know"

This from The New Yorker. I suggest you read the whole thing.

And try not to think about the November election. It'll keep you up at night.

Posted by Dan at August 25, 2004 08:38 AM

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