If you've been keeping up with blogdom for the past couple of days, you've probably come across the site How Obama Got Elected. The premise is basically "people who voted for Obama are stupid and misinformed, and it's the media's fault." The guy behind it commissioned a Zogby poll to show that a majority of Obama voters knew about highly publicized gaffs on Palin's part, such as her $150K wardrobe, but not about how Obama once accidentally said he had campaigned in 57 states when he meant 47. Uhhh, okay. The methodology of the poll and the resulting premise are superweak. First, there are no controls, they don't balance it with McCain voters, and the Obama flaws they ask voters about aren't really of much consequence.
Besides all of that, it's really not breaking news that the public is woefully uninformed. Let's look at some of the flat-out misinformation Bush supporters had in the 2004 election about things that actually mattered, according to WorldPublicOpinion.org:
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- 72% thought Iraq either had WMDs or a major program for developing them.
- 75% believed Iraq was providing substantial support to al-Qaeda.
- Neither was true, and it was known at the time, but 58% maintained they wouldn't have supported the war if these things weren't true ... which they weren't ... and never were ... and there never was concrete evidence to suggest so.
- 51% thought Bush supported the Kyoto treaty.
- 74% thought "he favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements."
Turns out voters can just be stupid (or more likely, people filter out information that would be damaging to their candidates). Of course the difference between WPO's study and this lame website's push poll is that WPO actually polled people on things that matter.
So it's not news that voters on both sides are misinformed. Maybe we should stop asking what they're misinformed about, and start asking why.