Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Worst System of Government, Except for All the Rest

In case you were feeling like the candidates sometimes talk down to their audience, here's this recent survey of Tennessee voters:

only about half of Tennessee adults can accurately name Kerry as the candidate who supports rescinding the recent federal income tax cuts for people earning over $200,000 a year. About a quarter (23%) incorrectly attributed the proposal to Bush, and 27% admit they don’t know which candidate supports the measure. Similarly, only about half (50%) rightly name Bush as the candidate who favors giving parents tax-funded vouchers to help pay private or religious school tuition. Thirteen percent attribute the plan to Kerry, who actually opposes it. Over a third (37%) admit they don’t know.

Overall, in fact, Tennesseans averaged only two right answers when quizzed about which candidate held which view on the five issues. A fifth (20%) got no right answers, and 19% got one answer right. Another fifth (20%) got two right answers, and still another fifth (20%) got three right answers. Only 13% got four right answers, and a mere 8% got all of the answers right.

So I guess maybe it'd be appropriate for me to swallow my liberal elitism and accept that candidates are going to have to do some repeatin' to get their message across.

Then again, maybe even that wouldn't help:

Nevertheless, Tennesseans profess a high degree of interest in the campaign, with 71% describing themselves as “very interested,” and 23% as “somewhat interested.” Only 6% say they are “not at all interested.” ... Over a third (39%) say they watched the presidential debates at “every single opportunity.” Another 22% say they watched “most of the time,” and about a quarter (24%) say they watched “only some of the time.” Just 16% say they never watched.

So they are paying attention. It's just not helping.

American democracy: a system wherein every four years, the most important decisions in the country are given to those least qualified to make them.

By which I mean, of course, the media.