July 24, 2008


Another Peek Inside the Brain of the Electorate (Libby Copeland, 7/24/08, Washington Post)

So a bunch of academics decides to revisit one of the defining books of modern American politics, a 1960 tome on the electorate. They spend years comparing interviews with voting-age Americans from 2000 and 2004 to what Americans said during elections in the 1950s. The academics' question: How much has the American voter changed over the past 50 years?

Their conclusion -- that the voter is pretty much the same dismally ill-informed creature he was back then -- continues a decades-long debate about whether Americans are as clueless as they sound.

Reader, before you send that outraged e-mail, consider that you may be an exception. You, of course, are endlessly fascinated by the debate over domestic wiretapping, but it's possible your neighbors think FISA is a hybrid vehicle. In fact, it's quite possible your neighbors are Republicans only because that's what their parents were, and ditto for the Democrats across the street. They couldn't even mumble a passable definition of "liberal" or "conservative."

"You could get depressed," says the University of Iowa's Michael Lewis-Beck, one of the political scientists who wrote "The American Voter Revisited," released last month and inspired by 1960's "The American Voter."

...would, of course, like us to care as much about their jobs as they do. But there's a reason we have a representative democracy instead. Voters don't need much more than a glimpse and a snippet to know whether someone likely represents their views or not. The rest is inside baseball.

In fact, the sole premise of the Obama candidacy is that you can tell he's different by looking at him, ‘This Is the Moment’: And now we are loved again? (Victor Davis Hanson, 7/25/08, National Review)

Besides the usual rock-star stuff that he excels at, Obama still does not do history well. He started, as in now usual, almost immediately by mentioning his race (“I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city.”) But that simply was not true, given the fact that for the last seven years both American Secretaries of State — who have been the faces of American foreign policy in Europe — were African-American.

Voters just aren't big on different.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 24, 2008 7:59 PM
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