We all like to think, or at least hope, that likely voters are the best informed voters. But a shocking new CSPAN poll of likely voters may shake our faith.
It found that 44% of respondents didn’t know that the three branches of government were co-equal. Nearly half (46%) think the SCOTUS is a partisan institution (granted, they might have a point, at least unofficially.) 61% claimed they were closely following Biden’s SCOTUS nominee, but 72% have no idea who it is, and 85% didn’t know she’s a black female, which was Biden’s #1 criteria for choosing a nominee. And while Roe v. Wade was the best-known SCOTUS decision, only 6% knew Brown vs. Board of Education, the landmark ruling that ended segregation in schools.
But that’s not the only poll that reflects badly on the public’s grasp of important information. A YouGov America survey found that people must assume that the louder a voice a group has in the media, the larger it is, which ain’t necessarily so.
Asked to estimate the size of various groups, on average, respondents thought that 21% of the US population is transgender (it’s actually 1%), that 26% make over a million dollars a year (in reality, less than 1%), that 27% are Muslim (1%), 27% are Native American (1%), 30% are Jewish (2%), 30% are gay or lesbian (3%), 33% are atheist (3%), and that 41% of Americans are black (actually 12%.) Although it’s possible that 41% of people currently in TV commercials are black.
Again, this is a great example of the premise of Dr. Todd Rose’s book “Collective Illusions,” that so much of what people believe is based on misconceptions and falsehoods, many of them promulgated by groups with an agenda that are trying to sound bigger and more powerful than they really are. And the way they keep those illusions alive is by scaring people out of questioning them.