Thursday, October 21, 2004

You knew it all along

Salon reports (subscription or ad-viewage required) that the Program on International Policy Attitudes issued a report showing that Bush supporters are significantly more clueless and less informed than Kerry supporters.

Great joke overheard today: What's the difference between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War? George W. Bush had a plan to get out of Vietnam.


Blogger Mwal said...

It may be true, but the report doesn't convince me.

51% of Bush supporters (and 34% of Kerry supporters) say, incorrectly, that Bush takes the position that "the U.S. [should] participate ... in the Kyoto agreement to reduce global warming."

But on the other hand, 74% of Kerry supporters (and 52% of Bush supporters) incorrectly say that Kerry supports U.S. participation in the Kyoto agreement.

From The Kerry-Edwards Plan for Clean Coal:

John Kerry and John Edwards believe that the Kyoto Protocol is not the answer. The near-term emission reductions it would require of the United States are infeasible, while the long-term obligations imposed on all nations are too little to solve the problem. Unlike the current Administration, John Kerry and John Edwards will offer an alternative to the Kyoto process that leads the world toward a more equitable and effective answer, while preserving coal miners’ jobs.

10/22/2004 01:21:00 AM  
Blogger bdean said...

Amusing story: I just gave a talk at a conference in Rome on my research in stochastic optimization. One of the primary focusses in my research is the difference between non-adaptive solutions (that commit to a strategy in advance and stick to it no matter how badly it seems to go) and adaptive solutions (that can revise their strategy again and again over time based on the outcome of past events). It was almost too perfect of an opportunity to pass up, so I had small thumbnail photos of Bush and Kerry scroll onto the screen while I was defining "adaptive" and "non-adaptive". The audience seemed to enjoy the humor. :)

10/22/2004 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Justin said...

I've long thought that elections ought to include a multiple choice quiz on the ballot. Each candidate submits 5 policy statements. A voter would have to select a candidate and correctly select 3 of the 5 candidate positions. Failure to select properly would throw out the vote. On the plus side, if you have a butterfly ballot and accidentally mark Buchanan rather than Gore, but nail 4 of 5 Gore positions, there would be a good case for voter intent.

Candidates would be encouraged to submit the policy statements early and to incorporate them into advertising.

10/22/2004 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Qian said...

bdean, I think Republicans would further demand that you duct tape a pair of flip-flops next to Kerry's picture. :)

jocave, I can see it now.

Republican Policy Statements:

1. God bless America
2. A Stronger America
3. A Stronger Middle Class
4. A Better Economy
5. A Better Education System
6. Kerry is a tax-and-spend, baby-killing, soft-on-terror liberal pansy who'll force you into a gay marriage.

Democratic Policy Statements:

1. A Stronger America
2. God bless America
3. A Better Economy
4. A Stronger Middle Class
5. A Better Education System
6. Bush is a war-mongering, CEO-loving, air-polluting conservative illiterate who'll draft your grandparents.

10/22/2004 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Since I seem to be on a Jon Stewart kick recently, there was a similar study that backs up Vincent's claim that the left is more educated. When Stewart appeared on Bill O'Reilly's show, O'Reilly referred to his audience as "stoned slackers".

As it turns out, research shows that viewers of the left leaning Daily show are more educated and informed than those of "The O'Reilly Factor".

10/22/2004 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

On one hand, I agree with Justin that it seems wrong that uninformed people get the same ammount of influenec as informed people. You might think that they just add noise to the count, but as we saw last time, sometimes the noise can be very significant. Further, uninformed people don't vote randomly. They're swayed in some systematic ways by politicans, media, etc. Even more puzzling to me is why uniformed people in different geographic areas seem to vote so similarly. Are they influenced by their neighbors?

Anyway, in practice, I agree with Qian's point that there's way too much potential for abuse. Who gets to write the questions and decide the "correct" answers. If all politicans were trustworthy, then maybe it would work, but I think one of the few things that American voters can agree on is that many politicans aren't trustworthy.

So maybe letting uniformed people add some systematic, correlated noise to the results is the lesser of the evils. Gee, why does that phrase sound so familiar?

10/24/2004 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger acg said...

I think the multiple choice quiz thing is a bad idea. Everybody is supposed to have the right to vote. If someone wanted to, say, base their vote on a coin toss or whatever, you should let them do that, even though it seems like a silly way to decide who to vote for.

10/24/2004 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Qian said...

Well, in theory the electoral college is suppose to protect us from ourselves. But I don't think it's ever been implemented in a way consistent with the founders' intentions. Not that it could have worked anyway since it really just pushes the problem one level down. That is why a properly functioning democracy depends on a politically literate population that is harder to manipulate. Unfortunately I don't know that the political literacy level is getting any higher and that's a problem that has no easy solutions. Any kind of a cluefulness requirement at the polls can be abused just as the "literacy tests" in the Jim Crow days of the South were used to disenfranchise black voters. In the end I guess we will get the government that we deserve. As Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.

10/24/2004 07:52:00 PM  

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