Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Low-Information Voters

I think this single topic needs to be further defined and explored

I found a little blurb about Low-information voters in wikipedia the other day.  I wanted to post the full article as of February 9th, 2009, as these little pieces have a tendency to disappear over time.  Obviously, the definition needs it's own topic within wikipedia, but that does not exist yet.


Political argumentation

Political arguments are used by academics, media pundits, candidates for political office and government officials. Political arguments are also used by citizens in ordinary interactions to comment about and understand political events. [16]. The rationality of the public is a major question in this line of research. A robust political science research tradition seems to prove that the American public is largely irrational and ignorant of even the most basic knowledge of national or world affairs. Political scientist S. Popkin coined the expression "low information voters" to describe most voters who know very little about politics or the world in general.
In practice, a "low-information voter" may not be aware of Legislation that their Representative has Sponsored in Congress. A low-information voter will based their ballot box decision on a media sound-bite, or a flier received in the mail. It is possible for a media sound-bite or campaign flier to present a political position for the incumbent candidate that completely contradicts the Legislative Action taken in Washington D.C. on behalf of the constituents. It may only take a small percentage of the overall voting group who base their decision on the inaccurate information, a voter block of 10 to 12%, to swing an overall election result. When this happens, the constituency at large has been duped or fooled. Never-the-less, the election result is legal and confirmed. Savvy Political Consultants will take advantage of low-information voters and sway their votes with mis-information because it can be easier and sufficiently effective. Institutions such as {http://factcheck.org/ factcheck.org] have become about in recent years to help counter the effects of such campaign tactics. Factcheck.org's stated goal is "We aim to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics, for voters"[17].
Some theorists have inferred from this that only comprehensively trained elites can debate public issues. They point as additional proof to the practice of academic debate in the United States, an activity almost exclusively involving children of the upper middle classes, future lawyers and graduate students, and not ordinary citizens.

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