Headlines that make me want to scream

It is headlines like this that make me want to scream out of frustration and anger at just how ignorant and disengaged Americans are: 1 in 4 Americans have no idea which party controls the Senate or the House:

Only four in 10 Americans can correctly identify which party controls the majority in the House and Senate, according to a new Pew Research Center study on Americans’ political beliefs. Thirty-three percent of Americans can identify the majority party in only one chamber, and 28 percent — more than one in four people (!) — have completely no idea.

Sad? Sure. Surprising? Nope.

Survey

Americans have never had an especially good track record when it comes to scoring A+ on questions that test their knowledge of basic political trivia instead of their feelings. There have always been people who don’t pay attention to politics, and there always will be. (Worth noting: The more partisan you are, the more likely you’re going to know who is running things in the legislative branch.)

For Democrats concerned about combating the Midterm Drop-Off problem, this headline is even worse. The so-called “Rising American Electorate” apparently can’t be bothered to vote. Democrats have an enthusiasm problem. Big time. (note: this is not an “enthusiasm” problem, it is a behavioral problem):

The history-making coalition that delivered the presidency to Barack Obama in 2008 and reelected him in 2012 has a distinct attitude toward the 2014 election: Meh.

A new poll from Democratic pollster Democracy Corps finds that just 68 percent of African Americans, Latinos, young people and unmarried women who voted in 2012 and are “likely” to vote in 2014 — the four key parts of Obama’s coalition — say they are “almost certain” to vote in the upcoming midterm elections.

That’s up four points from April, when 64 percent said the same. But it’s still lagging far behind other voting groups, a combined 85 percent of whom say they are almost certain to vote. The new 17-point gap is up from 15 in April and 11 in March of last year.

For comparison’s sake, at the tail end of the Democrats’ disastrous 2010 campaign, the gap was 22 points.

Cartoon_03

We wrote back in April how troubling this news is for Democrats. That’s because their 2008 and 2012 coalitions were notable in large part because of these four groups, which don’t generally turn out big but did so for Obama.

And the effect on the 2014 election is clear. While the less-enthusiastic “Rising American Electorate” (the pollster’s name for the Obama coalition) favors Democrats by 19 points, all of the other, more-enthusiastic voter groups combine to favor Republicans by 18 points.

And these aren’t the only polls to suggest midterm turnout is a looming problem for Democrats. An April AP-GfK poll showed, among those who are strongly interested in politics — i.e. most apt to vote — people favored a GOP-controlled Congress 51 percent to 37 percent.

Democrats will continue seeking motivation for their voters — a big reason you’ve heard so much talk about GOP obstruction, the “war on women,” allegations of GOP racism and the Koch brothers. All of these are geared at motivating the unmotivated, who are legion right now.

Despite these efforts, many of Democrats’ most important voters are still very casual about the need to vote in November.

Democracies die from indifference and neglect. Republicans only win when Democrats do not turn out to vote. This is how just a small group of dangerous radicals can take over a country with a large majority of the population opposed to their radical agenda. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing.”

7 responses to “Headlines that make me want to scream

  1. Crackerhead

    Don’t despair…every dark cloud has a silver lining. As a Republican this bodes well for my camp. And that is good in the short run. It also sort of fits into the natural rhythm of national politics that ebb and wane between conservatism and liberalism.

    However, I despair sometimes that politics is falling more and more into the hands of extremists at either end of the spectrum. This is not an extremist nation and control by either of the extremes can not be good. The malaise the article describes demonstrates we are not a nation of extremists because the people who came out in large numbers to vote for Obama did so because they viewed his election as an historic moment in our Nation’s history and they wanted to participate. While I have always viewed Obama as an extremist President, the people who voted for him didn’t necessarily see him that way. Now there is no one to excite the electorate so they are hum-drum about the election coming up.

    As a side note, I want to give kudos to President Obama for the caution he is showing towards the conflict going on in Iraq. There have been a few other times I approved of what was doing (but not many). In the case of Iraq, I applaud his caution and his current approach.

  2. North Of The River

    Az Blue says:”Now days people are into passively signing online petitions and not doing the hard work of “organize, mobilize, and march” — ” is because Az is of many states that allow “POT”,so people are just smoking “POT” all day long playing with their Cable TV and Computer!

    Tempe has the second highest crime rate in the “Valley”,with the Chief of Police a crook: http://www.tempepolicecloset.com and nobody does anything about it,including the elected leaders. More info also with Bill Richardson’s comments in the East Valley Tribune.

  3. I’d bet almost anything this correlates with each Pew segment’s median age.

  4. Arizona Eagletarian

    But Meanie, isn’t this our raison d’être as bloggers?

    • AZ BlueMeanie

      Too often it feels as if we are shouting into the wind. I grew up at a time when people took to the streets for change, the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war movement, the ERA, etc. Now days people are into passively signing online petitions and not doing the hard work of “organize, mobilize, and march” — then vote them out of office! Americans today dishonor those who sacrificed so much to give them the rights that they now take for granted.

  5. How about this?
    Fifty-seven percent of Americans say that religion can answer all or most of today’s problems.