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Subject: Poll Shows Voters Are Broadly Ignorant About Issues That Impact Them rss

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Steven Woodcock
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Interesting results:

http://www.justfacts.com/news_2016_poll_voter_knowledge.asp


Trump voters were more informed about the issues polled than Clinton voters were (43% vs. 31%), though I wouldn't call either number all that something to be proud of.

Kinda wish it was 90+% across the board though......



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Lee Fisher
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Koldfoot wrote:
File that under "duh".

Then again, some of those questions are obscure crap and are not on anyone's mind, kind of like, "name 3 members of your kid's school board". Nor was there much (anything?) that is an issue of the moment.


Have to agree with Koldfoot here.
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Steve Cates
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Koldfoot wrote:
File that under "duh".

Then again, some of those questions are obscure crap and are not on anyone's mind, kind of like, "name 3 members of your kid's school board". Nor was there much (anything?) that is an issue of the moment.


Agreed. I think a few of these questions are probably significant, but a lot of them are like... averaging the national debt per household. And when you say "is it more or less than $118,000 per household" and the answer is more, it's $156,000, it doesn't really show any depth to the ignorance because in the grand scheme those numbers aren't seismically different.
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Kelsey Rinella
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You've heard that framing in polls matters, right? So it's worth checking out the sources a little bit. "Just Facts" isn't quite as bad a name as "Totally Legit News", but it sounds a little funny, doesn't it? So, let's look at the top ten sources of funding on the Open Secrets page for the pollster they chose:

Quote:
1 Republican Party of North Carolina $145,176 2 10-20-2014 11-07-2014
2 Republican Party of Virginia $75,617 2 06-27-2014 11-03-2014
3 Republican State Central Cmte/Maryland $72,582 4 07-31-2014 11-06-2014
4 Thom Tillis Cmte $60,759 2 05-14-2014 06-02-2014
5 Republican Party of South Carolina $34,093 3 04-16-2013 05-09-2013
6 YG Network $30,955 9 02-13-2014 03-10-2014
7 Will Brooke for Congress $26,733 3 05-21-2014 06-13-2014
8 Bob Goodlatte for Congress Cmte $16,787 5 03-11-2014 11-06-2014
9 Carolina Patriot Alliance $11,500 1 05-05-2014 05-05-2014
10 Republican Party of Washington $11,011 2 10-21-2014 10-21-2014


That's … not exactly balanced. So now check out Just Facts' own About Us page (which I should probably have read first):

Quote:
In general parlance, we are conservative/libertarian in our viewpoints, but unlike many organizations and media outlets, this does not mean we give preference to facts that coincide with our opinions. Quite to the contrary, we are committed to objectivity and will report any fact that meets the criteria below, regardless of the implications.


So, they're pretty open about their biases. They claim they'd let us know if the poll came out a way they didn't want, and I've no reason to think otherwise, but they're also quite clear that they're working on collecting data which will support their political ends. Which should have been abundantly clear from the questions they ask--several of those questions are pretty up-front in their attempt to push a viewpoint, rather than collect information (the one comparing national debt by household to household debt ought to stand out to everyone as a particularly clear example).

The definition of these as "the issues which affect them" is a pure political ploy. They aren't representative, they're specifically chosen to make Democrats look stupid. Which isn't hard to do! So that's something--there are lots of issues on which Republican ideology is closer to reality than Democratic ideology. That's not absolutely nothing. But when you let avowed conservatives define which facts matter, you don't really learn much from the proportion of the facts which Republicans get more right than Democrats.
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Yeah. This really isn't a shock. On average, people are kind of ignorant. It is one of the core issues of democracy of any sort: an informed population is actually pretty tricky to have.
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David Dearlove
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Some of the answers are pretty politically biased. The idea that these are facts is dubious to say the least.
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A totally ignorant person who knew that and guessed each answer (rather than saying don't know) would do better than the actual voters.

Edit: Or perhaps not. The results don't indicate how many got the answer wrong and instead said don't know (or refused to answer). Given that in many cases the answer would be guesswork to almost everyone, don't know would actually be the correct answer.
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Oliver Dienz
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I like the answers to 5 and 7:

Quote:
In 2015, federal, state and local governments collected a combined total of $4.9 trillion in taxes or an average of $40,000 for every household in the U.S.

Quote:
In 2015, federal, state and local governments spent a combined total of $6.1 trillion or an average of $49,000 for every household in the U.S.

So much for the government being a drain on the economy.
 
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Andre
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http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/40-percent-americans-vp-candi...

Very telling, about the state of knowledge of the averae U.S. citizen. If one wants to vote, I would think that the above is kind of key, i.e., knowing who you are voting for.

http://gawker.com/5783852/nearly-one-third-of-americans-dont...

A shocking 1/3 cannot name the current Vice President. This tells me of the apathy of the average U.S. citizen. to both the election, and politics in general, as a vehicle that can improve their situation.

It's actually kind of sad to see this, we pride ourselves on being a great country, but these are not statistics worth being proud of.
 
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abadolato01 wrote:
A shocking 1/3 cannot name the current Vice President. This tells me of the apathy of the average U.S. citizen. to both the election, and politics in general, as a vehicle that can improve their situation.

It isn't like the VP is important. Unless you do something like pick a moron such as Sarah Palin, the VP just doesn't matter outside of the VP's home state.
 
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J.D. Hall
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lfisher wrote:
Koldfoot wrote:
File that under "duh".

Then again, some of those questions are obscure crap and are not on anyone's mind, kind of like, "name 3 members of your kid's school board". Nor was there much (anything?) that is an issue of the moment.


Have to agree with Koldfoot here.

I'll second that.

But, on the other hand, this is what America is, has been, and always will be: if you don't want to participate in politics, you don't have to. And fortunately, it really doesn't matter on an individual scale.

Sure it would be good if more or all people voted, sure it would be good if more people knew more about the issues of the day. But I truly doubt it's that much different in other liberal democracies.
 
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DavidDearlove wrote:
Some of the answers are pretty politically biased. The idea that these are facts is dubious to say the least.


The page on global warming is full of debunked tropes, such as "we're rebounding from the Little Ice Age".

They pretty carefully framed the questions and used pretty ambiguous terms which were not defined; I'd suspect that most respondents thought that "social programs" meant welfare programs like EITC and TANF rather than insurance programs like social security and medicare.
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Andre
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sfox wrote:
abadolato01 wrote:
A shocking 1/3 cannot name the current Vice President. This tells me of the apathy of the average U.S. citizen. to both the election, and politics in general, as a vehicle that can improve their situation.

It isn't like the VP is important. Unless you do something like pick a moron such as Sarah Palin, the VP just doesn't matter outside of the VP's home state.


Tell that to Lyndon Johnson, or Gerald Ford, or any one of a number of VP's that ultimately became President. You are electing an individual who will take the reigns of power, if the President should be temporarily, or permanently incapacitated. You consider that to be unimportant? Unlikely, maybe, unimportant? I don't believe so.
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odie73 wrote:
I like the answers to 5 and 7:

Quote:
In 2015, federal, state and local governments collected a combined total of $4.9 trillion in taxes or an average of $40,000 for every household in the U.S.

Quote:
In 2015, federal, state and local governments spent a combined total of $6.1 trillion or an average of $49,000 for every household in the U.S.

So much for the government being a drain on the economy.

Yeah, because fees, borrowing from future generations, and tariffs don't drain the economy?
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ironcates wrote:
odie73 wrote:
I like the answers to 5 and 7:

Quote:
In 2015, federal, state and local governments collected a combined total of $4.9 trillion in taxes or an average of $40,000 for every household in the U.S.

Quote:
In 2015, federal, state and local governments spent a combined total of $6.1 trillion or an average of $49,000 for every household in the U.S.

So much for the government being a drain on the economy.

Yeah, because fees, borrowing from future generations, and tariffs don't drain the economy?

Money, in itself, has no meaning anyway. It is used to represent economic value, it isn't economic value. Get rid of all the money and all of the real assets such as land, buildings, factories, trucks, equipment, knowledge, etc still exists. That is true whether your money is fiat currency, bitcoins, or gold bars.

My only point here is that it is silly to concern yourself with government debt. The government can always just default and/or devalue the debt. In fact, it will eventually have to do so. Who suffers from that? Only the people who own US debt, which is generally other countries and large corporations, it isn't average americans.

Government debt isn't like household debt since the government controls the money that is used to represent the debt. Our current lifestyle here in the US is primarily possible because of the substantially over valued dollar. The excess value is why we have a huge trade deficit and the government can't balance the budget. In the meantime, while the dollar is over valued, we get to print money and trade it for goods. What isn't to love about that?
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Oliver Dienz
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ironcates wrote:
odie73 wrote:
I like the answers to 5 and 7:

Quote:
In 2015, federal, state and local governments collected a combined total of $4.9 trillion in taxes or an average of $40,000 for every household in the U.S.

Quote:
In 2015, federal, state and local governments spent a combined total of $6.1 trillion or an average of $49,000 for every household in the U.S.

So much for the government being a drain on the economy.

Yeah, because fees, borrowing from future generations, and tariffs don't drain the economy?


Who will receive those "fees"? The people who hold the bonds aka "savers" who will be also part of those future generations. Hence, a future generation will pay itself. There is no net gain or loss in monetary terms. However, there IS a net loss in real terms when labor is not used to produce something and instead left idle. That potential labor is lost forever.
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Steven Woodcock
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lfisher wrote:
Koldfoot wrote:
File that under "duh".

Then again, some of those questions are obscure crap and are not on anyone's mind, kind of like, "name 3 members of your kid's school board". Nor was there much (anything?) that is an issue of the moment.


Have to agree with Koldfoot here.


As do I generally....that's a sad commentary on where we are as a culture, but there it is.

I don't have any kids, but I know my folks could name all the school board members at the time.


Ferret
 
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rinelk wrote:
(much blather deleted)


Translation: I don't like the way this survey turned out, so I'm gonna try to poison the well a bit.


Ferret
 
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Lee Fisher
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Ferretman wrote:
lfisher wrote:
Koldfoot wrote:
File that under "duh".

Then again, some of those questions are obscure crap and are not on anyone's mind, kind of like, "name 3 members of your kid's school board". Nor was there much (anything?) that is an issue of the moment.


Have to agree with Koldfoot here.


As do I generally....that's a sad commentary on where we are as a culture, but there it is.

I don't have any kids, but I know my folks could name all the school board members at the time.


Ferret


Don't know why you agreed here but not with rinelk. The point is that it it is a garbage survey.
 
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Ferretman wrote:
rinelk wrote:
(much blather deleted)


Translation: I don't like the way this survey turned out, so I'm gonna try to poison the well a bit.

Ferret


No, just no.

If you'd like a survey that makes Republicans look more ignorant than Democrats, here's one:

http://publicmind.fdu.edu/2013/outthere/final.pdf

Politically active Republicans are more likely to be conspiracy theorists.

Cuz the truth is out there and the evil dems are hiding it! woo-ee.

Saying "This isn't biased! It totally agrees with me so I'd know!" is pretty goofy.
 
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Kelsey Rinella
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Ferretman wrote:
rinelk wrote:
(much blather deleted)


Translation: I don't like the way this survey turned out, so I'm gonna try to poison the well a bit.


Ferret


Well, my poison was simply the disclosures of the people you cited. I didn't originate any of that. But, basically, yeah. I don't trust partisan polls designed to get a certain result. I assume this poll was such a poll because of the questions chosen and the acknowledged political preferences of those who framed them. Is there any part of that process you think is unreasonable?

I admit, you're right--I'm basically resting a lot of doubt about the results on the source (though I'd have thought commenting on the actual content of the questions would go a little beyond that). So it does fit the mold of "poisoning the well" well enough for Internet forum purposes. But, with surveys, that's usually legitimate, isn't it? Think about how 538 or electoral-vote weight pollsters with a know partisan lean. That's good practice, right?
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odie73 wrote:
ironcates wrote:
odie73 wrote:
I like the answers to 5 and 7:

Quote:
In 2015, federal, state and local governments collected a combined total of $4.9 trillion in taxes or an average of $40,000 for every household in the U.S.

Quote:
In 2015, federal, state and local governments spent a combined total of $6.1 trillion or an average of $49,000 for every household in the U.S.

So much for the government being a drain on the economy.

Yeah, because fees, borrowing from future generations, and tariffs don't drain the economy?


Who will receive those "fees"? The people who hold the bonds aka "savers" who will be also part of those future generations. Hence, a future generation will pay itself. There is no net gain or loss in monetary terms. However, there IS a net loss in real terms when labor is not used to produce something and instead left idle. That potential labor is lost forever.

By fees, I simply mean that the government collects fees in addition to taxes and tariffs. DMV fees and regulatory fees on corporations are examples.

If the government defaults in the future there will be a whole lot of idleness, so pay now or pay later. I personally think it's a moral virtue to deliver to our children a sound economy.

If they don't default and instead inflate away our future value, 3 things will happen 1) those on fixed income like Social Security will suffer. 2) saver's value that they've stored for a rainy day will be decimated and 3)the people around flat median income level or lower will suffer. Wages have been flat since the 90's Inflation doesn't seem to boost the median income so the poorest are getting hurt more by increasing costs without increasing income. If you really care about the future, you don't want to willy nilly increase spending beyond what we can afford.

I care about the poor and our descendants.
 
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Oliver Dienz
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ironcates wrote:

By fees, I simply mean that the government collects fees in addition to taxes and tariffs. DMV fees and regulatory fees on corporations are examples.

Does not really matter; government income is government income (and may well be included in the above figure of $40,000 collected). It still remains that the government receives less than it spends which means the private sector retains the difference as savings.

Quote:
If the government defaults in the future there will be a whole lot of idleness, so pay now or pay later. I personally think it's a moral virtue to deliver to our children a sound economy.

The government does not need to default or inflate the debt away. It can increase its income (= raise taxes/fees) and/or reduce its spending to run a surplus. Of course, doing that is only prudent when the economy is at capacity and inflation rises to undesired levels. However, at that stage the economy will actually be able to absorb a government surplus; not when we are in deflationary recession/stagnation phase.

Quote:
If they don't default and instead inflate away our future value, 3 things will happen 1) those on fixed income like Social Security will suffer. 2) saver's value that they've stored for a rainy day will be decimated and 3)the people around flat median income level or lower will suffer. Wages have been flat since the 90's Inflation doesn't seem to boost the median income so the poorest are getting hurt more by increasing costs without increasing income. If you really care about the future, you don't want to willy nilly increase spending beyond what we can afford.

The limits to our spending are not some $ numbers; those have no physical (real) constraint as they are accounting entries. The actual limits are our capabilities to produce goods and services. To produce those we only need labor and natural resources. We can save (= not use) some natural resources (e. g. fossil fuels) but we cannot save labor. Hence, we will be better off using all available labor while at the same time reducing our impact on the stocks of natural resources. Those would generate real savings for a healthy economy and higher living standards for future generations.

Quote:
I care about the poor and our descendants.

Me too, that's the reason why I rather have the government be in debt to increase employment than have the poor suffer now for no real benefit for future generations.
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remorseless1 wrote:
lfisher wrote:
Koldfoot wrote:
File that under "duh".

Then again, some of those questions are obscure crap and are not on anyone's mind, kind of like, "name 3 members of your kid's school board". Nor was there much (anything?) that is an issue of the moment.


Have to agree with Koldfoot here.

I'll second that.

But, on the other hand, this is what America is, has been, and always will be: if you don't want to participate in politics, you don't have to. And fortunately, it really doesn't matter on an individual scale.

Sure it would be good if more or all people voted, sure it would be good if more people knew more about the issues of the day. But I truly doubt it's that much different in other liberal democracies.


Me too. Clearly, not all facts share the same relevance.
 
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