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October 19, 2004

Are Voters Stupid?

As most Political Wire readers know, we spend a lot of time analyzing polling methodologies trying to make a determination whether the polls we report are accurate or not. But a key finding from a recent Middle Tennessee State University poll is much more startling:
"A close look at five key domestic agenda items suggests that Tennesseans as a group hardly qualify as well-informed and ideologically consistent policy wonks. On four of the five issues, only about half of a given candidate’s supporters hold opinions consistent with those of the candidate."
The Votemaster notes it's "not considered politically correct to point out that an awful lot of voters don't have a clue what they are talking about."

The Cato Institute looked at the question last month:
"It is tempting to conclude that voters must be lazy or stupid. But even a smart and hardworking person can rationally decide not to pay much attention to politics. No matter how well-informed a person is, his or her vote has only a tiny chance of affecting the outcome of an election. Since that vote is almost certain not to be decisive, even a citizen who cares greatly about the outcome has almost no incentive to acquire sufficient knowledge to make an informed choice.

"Acquiring significant amounts of political knowledge to be a more informed voter is, in most situations, simply irrational. But the rational decisions of individuals create a dysfunctional collective outcome in which the majority of the electorate is dangerously ill-informed."


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