Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Uninformed Electorate

In subjecting myself to my usual round of torture, I was reading the New York Times this morning. When skimming their headlines, I was fascinated to see an editorial titled, "Flunking the Electoral College." Designated a "quadrennial ritual born in the economics and politics of slavery and the quill-pen era," the New York times has decided the Electoral College has to go. According to them, "it actively disenfranchises voters and occasionally (think 2000) makes the candidate with fewer popular votes president. American democracy would be far stronger without it." 

Although usually they are lovers of nuance, the NYT seems to see this issue in black and white. They say of the history of the electoral college:
"It was believed that it would be easier for them to vote for local officials, whom they knew more about, to be electors. It is hard to imagine that significant numbers of voters thought they did not know enough about Barack Obama and John McCain by Election Day this year."

Ah, yes... it's true. Significant numbers of voters did think they knew enough about Barack Obama and John McCain by Election Day. Does that mean they were truly well informed? 

John Ziegler is working on a documentary titled, "Media Malpractice... How Obama Got Elected."  Yes, I admit this sounds highly partisan -- I think it's safe to surmise that Ziegler is not an Obama fan. But his point rings true regardless. He commissioned a Zogby poll to question Obama voters on the issues. The findings were interesting:

57.4% could not say which party controls congress.
71.8% had no clue Joe Biden had to quit a previous campaign because of plagiarism.
82.6% didn't know that Barack Obama won his first election by getting his opponents kicked off the ballot.
56.1% did not know Obama started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground. 
86.9% thought that Palin said she could see Russia from her house (but that was Tina Fey from Saturday Night Live).
93.8% identified Palin as the candidate with a pregnant teenage daughter.

You can see the full poll results and a video clip of Obama voters being interviewed at the polls on Election Day at Watching the video clip was enlightening... at the end, one person questioned said she realized now that she's not as informed as she thought she was... then considered for just a moment and said that she doesn't think it would change her vote, though.

With such an uninformed and apathetic electorate, how will America stand?

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