Today I am Going to Fly

Some men are born posthumously. ~Nietzsche

Obama’s Election

Posted by penuruloki on November 19, 2008

I really hadn’t intended to comment on the presidential race any more. There seemed to be little to comment on until Obama takes office. After all, now that the decision has been made, there’s no point to slamming the policies that he preached on the campaign trail; might as well wait on comment on the policies he supports in office.

My election posts may have been a seemed a little harsh. Even those who disappointed me in their willingness to process political information and produce a rational decision were not what I would consider truly “ignorant” in a general sense, which is perhaps why I expected more vigor and commitment in taking a political stand. Voting for Obama (or any lefty) doesn’t make you a blather idiot. I just expect otherwise intelligent, educated people to be able to express their reasons coherently.

But the question could definitely be raised about how much Obama’s supporters really knew about him and his policies, not based on the assumption that leftists are necessarily ignorant or stupid (which really wouldn’t be a fair assumtion about anyone who forms and defends a personal political agenda left or right), but in the context of an election where policies and issues were very poorly covered by the media in general.

Well someone has asked the question. Zogby was solicited to poll Obama voters about exactly what they “knew” going into the election (the scare quotes are used for a specific reason!).

The actual press release is here, with full poll results available here. Yes I could have just linked the blogs and right-wing web sites that trumpet the results (and they are easier to wade through if you’re short on time or effort), but I consider a link to the source more trustworthy. Rumors of poll results don’t rate a post even on my personal blog. =)

Sadly, while the results are depressing, the conclusions that can be drawn are limited, not based on sample size or bad poll tactics, but by missing data. Where is our data on what _McCain_ voters knew. How accurate was their “knowledge” of the candidates and the race? Did their “knowledge” match the typical Obama voter (with different reactions) or did they “know” and entirely different set of facts? I really wish someone would commission a matching poll to find out. It would make these results a lot more interesting.

And the scare quotes?

87 percent said that Sarah Palin was the candidate who said she could see Russia from her house. Actually, it was Tina Fey who said that.

I’m not surprised that Obama voters got their information primarily from traditional media sources (the correlation between what they “knew” and media coverage seems the only solid conclusion that can be drawn from the poll), and that the notable bias in reporting for this cycle are reflected in the results. But pulling “facts” from a satirical sketch comedy show? This could be a YouTube effect, where most people that saw the clip saw it out of the context of the show and mistook it for footage of Palin. I have a hard time believing that people saw it on SNL and thought it was real. Correction, I have a hard time believing that many people _watch_ SNL anymore.

I considered the possiblily that the question might have forced people to guess, but “Not Sure” was an option on every question (one of the reasons why percentages are so low). The majority of those who picked an answer was right most of the time. The exceptions were the above question, and “Which candidate said their policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket?” Where voters put their weight behind McCain (who is more environmentally sensitive than Bush, but hardly pro-bankruptcy for our energy industry), when it was an Obama gaffe relatively late in the campaign.

At any rate, feel free to look at the poll and comment on what you think. Attack it, defend it, whatever. Maybe I’ll get my wish and someone will put up somthing more comprehensive.


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