I’m always amused by the term “low-info voters” and low-information voters.” It’s a phrase coined by Rush Limbaugh and which is used with increasing frequency by certain RWers on this blog. (More here, here, and here.)
What’s so funny is, there certainly are some “low-info” posters here, but they’re the ones who are aiming the barb. At the risk of making some regulars so upset they’ll threaten to tattle on me to my superiors, we’ll explore this just a bit.
Recall the weeks leading up to the November election? These same RWer posters smugly predicted Romney was going to win. That certainty was not at all false bravado.
Instead, it was based on something these posters believed to be a fact, and which they cited over and over in the comments: the pollsters were way oversampling Democrats, therefore the poll results were skewed, therefore they could not be believed. And, in fact, the polls could be “unskewed.” The mainstream media was burying this this, though, because they were in cahoots with Obama.
Some of the posters took pains to explain how this came to be: the turnout model assumed too many Dems, because it was based on the 2008 election.
From them, you read repeated comments positing that if the pollsters had “accurately” based their turnout models on the 2010 midterm Congressional elections (which RWers claimed was a much less distant-in-time snapshot of the mood of the electorate compared to 2008, and therefore inherently more reliable) the outcome of the polls would show Romney easily winning.
One or two criticized these turnout models by citing this “fact:” There are more Republicans than Democrats. And one or two others cited the “fact” of Obama’s overwhelming unpopularity.
None of that garbage was true. It was all big grab bag of assumptions the RWers mistakenly believed was fact.
The pollsters’ turnout models were correct. Of course they were — you cannot compare turnouts in congressional and presidential elections. Anyone with any sense knows this. Republicans don’t make up a higher proportion of the electorate than Democrats. Perhaps somebody could dig up some phony, low-information site that made such a claim; nevertheless, the opposite was (and remains) true.
Then when Romney lost the election, some of them just shrugged it off and claimed Obama won because he stole it. All those “facts” they had relied on in their confident predictions? Out the window. The “facts” were so yesterday. Time for a new set!
I mean, geez, the crazy train has no destination.
More recently, we’ve been playing a similar game in the comments about whose fault it is that this country hasn’t had a budget in 4 years,. Again, the asserted “facts” are shifting as the RWers are challenged on them.
At first, they argued: “Obama has not proposed a budget in FOUR YEARS! In FOUR YEARS!”
When it was pointed out this was 100 percent untrue (h/t to Dan Radmacher), they looked it up, muttered to themselves, “Oh sugar, got that one wrong!” then shrugged and came back with:
“Well, he hasn’t proposed a budget THAT CAN PASS CONGRESS, SO THERE!”
This statement is completely meaningless, because whether a budget can pass Congress is entirely up to Congress, not the president. A federal budget is in no way a take-it-or-leave it proposition. Congress actually has the power to rewrite the whole budget to its liking, and then give it to the president to sign or veto.
Once those facts slapped them in the face, the RWers tried again:
“Yeah, but NOT ONE Democrat voted for Obama’s budget! NOT ONE!” they cried.
That was technically true but completely deceptive at the same time. Nobody voted on Obama’s budget because it never got introduced. Why? No congressman or senator introduced it — again, that is up to them. Why didn’t they introduce it? The answer is politics.
What’s actually been happening is the folks in Congress (and goes both for Republicans and Democrats) don’t want to pass a budget. Because that would force them to cast a vote on deficit spending, tax increases, and other politically charged matters. The entire House is up for re-election every 2 years and so is one-third of the Senate. Budget votes can easily hurt vulnerable members. Neither side has an overwhelming majority. A shift of a handful of seats in either chamber can alter who has the majority.
So they sidestep the issue by passing continuing resolutions to keep the money flowing, except for gimmicks like the Ryan budget that passed the House. House Speaker John Boehner allowed a vote on that only because he knew it didn’t have a snowball’s chances of passing in the Senate.
Next, the charge was: Well, “Obama could take the budget TO THE PEOPLE! Why doesn’t he? See! That’s proof he’s responsible.”
This is ridiculous as well.
First, there’s no such thing as a national plebiscite, because the U.S. Constitution does not allow for that. Second, while presidents have in the past used their “bully pulpit” to urge voters to put pressure on Congress, that’s never been done with budget before for many good reasons.
The chief reason is, the bully pulpit only works on single, narrowly defined issues. The budget is not single issue; it’s tens of thousands of distinct spending issues. It’s way too vast and complex for any voter to comprehend in any significant way. That’s why the idea to “take it to the people!” is so silly.
Surely now the RWers will next shrug this off and come up with some other equally absurd argument. It never ends, because the crazy train has no destination, remember?
In other words, the root of this entire debate is more “low-information” — but from the people who are keep bringing it up. They don’t understand the ins and outs of the process, or how it works. It doesn’t even appear they want to understand.
All of which is to say, the folks who are pissing and moaning about “low-info voters” really ought to be looking for them in mirrors.