Zogby post-election poll

The week after the election, John Zogby conducted a poll of people who voted for Barack Obama to see how well informed they were on several issues.   Of those voters, 63% were democrats, 9% were republicans and 28% were independents.  The full stats from the poll are here: To save you time picking through the data, here are the questions along with the top two responses from each group:

R= answers given by republican voters
D=answers given by democratic voters
I=answers given by independent voters
T=total from all responders

1 - Before this past election, which political party controlled both houses of congress?
R:
49% of republicans answered - Democrats
32%  of republicans answered - Republicans

D:
39% said - Democrats
39% said - Republicans

I:
47% - Democrats
33% - Republicans

T:
43% - Democrats
37% - republicans

Less than half of those polled were able to answer this question correctly.  61% of democrats got it wrong even though it was their own party in charge.


2 - Which candidate could not say how many houses they own?
R:
91% - McCain
7% - don't know

D:
78%  - McCain
19%  - Don't know

I:
85% - McCain
11% - don't know

T:
81% - McCain
15% - don't know

Most people got this one right.


3 - Which candidate said they could see Russia from their house?
R:
91% - Palin
9% - don't know

D:
85% - Palin
13% - don't know

I:
90% - Palin
8% - don't know

T:
87% - Palin
11% - don't know

This is technically a trick question.  Palin never said this.  It was Tina Fey who said this on SNL.  However, Palin did say that Russian land is visible from land in Alaska, which was the inspiration for the SNL gag.


4 - Which candidate had to quit a previous political campaign because they were found to have plagiarized a speech?
R:
47% - don't know
43% - Biden.

D:
55% - don't know
28% - Biden

I:
51% - don't know
24% - Biden

T:
53% - don't know
28% - Biden

The correct answer was “Biden.”  Most people did not know this.


5 - Which candidate won their first election by getting all of their opponents kicked off the ballot?
R:
63% - don't know
14% - Obama

D:
59% - don't know
17% - Obama

I:
63% - don't know
19% - Obama

T:
61% - don't know
17% - Obama

Again, most people did not know that it was Obama.


6 - Which candidate wore clothes that their political party reportedly spent $150,000 on?
R:
98% - Palin
1% - don't know

D:
85% - Palin
10% - don't know

I:
86% - Palin
8% - don't know

T:
86% - Palin
9% - don't know

Most people got this right



7 - Which candidate currently has a pregnant teenage daughter?
R:
99% - Palin
1% - McCain

D:
92% - Palin
5% - don't know

I:
97% - Palin
2% - don't know

T:
94% - palin
4% - don't know

A strong majority knew the answer to this one.


8 – Which candidate said that Obama would be tested in his first six months as president by a generated international crisis?
R:
37% - Biden
34% - McCain

D:
54% - Biden
21% - don't know

I:
58% - Biden
17% - don't know

T:
53% - Biden
21% - McCain

Most people got this one right, but it was still just over half of those polled.

9 - Which candidate claimed to have campaigned in 57 states?
R:
37% - don't know
35% - Obama

D:
43% - don't know
24% - Obama

I:
44% - don't know
17% - Obama

T:
43% - don't know
23% - Obama

Most people did not know that the correct answer was Obama.  



10 - Which candidate said their policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket?
R:
41% - don't know
32% - McCain

D:
42% - don't know
28% - McCain

I:
44% - don't know
25% - McCain

T:
43% - don't know
28% - McCain

The correct answer was Obama.  Only 12% answered this correctly.


11 – Which candidate said that the government should redistribute the wealth?
R:
87% - Obama
11% - don't know

D:
79% - Obama
13% - Don't know

I:
82% - Obama
8% - Don't know

T:
81% - Obama
11% - don't know

Most people got this one right.


12 – Which candidate started their political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground?
R:
49% - Obama
46% - Don't know

D:
44% - Obama
41% - don't know

I:
42 – Obama
36% - don't know

T:
43% - Obama
40% - don't know

The most popular answer was the correct one, but less than half of those polled answered correctly.




Only 2% of those polled scored 11 or higher and only 0.5% answered all of the questions correctly.  However, that is not the interesting part of the story for me.

Here are some interesting things I gleaned from this ..

When tallying the totals,
100% of the questions negative toward the republican ticket were answered correctly.
43% of the questions negative toward  the democratic ticket were answered correctly.

Further, the negative republican questions were answered correctly by a much wider margin.  If you average the scores,  87% answered the negative questions about the republicans correctly , while only 37% answered negative questions about the democrats correctly.  This means that it was actually MUCH more likely that someone would answer a negative question about the democrats INCORRECTLY:

The negative stuff about the republicans was mostly common knowledge, while the negative stuff about the democrats remained a mystery to most of those polled – and remember this was a poll of Obama voters.  These people knew more about about their candidate's opponents wardrobes than they knew about accusations of dirty politics directed at the person for whom they were voting. 

Why were 83% of them unaware that in 1996 Obama used petition rules to ensure that he ran unopposed on the Democratic ticket for the Illinois senate?  Why were 88% unaware of their own candidate's plan to tax the coal industry into oblivion, and even worse, why did more than twice as many of them think that this was McCain's plan as thought it was Obama's?  These are not entirely insignificant issues, and yet these voters were grossly ignorant.

On the other hand, they were much more knowledgeable about relatively trivial stuff concerning their candidate's opposition.  Only 14% didn't know about Palin's $150,000 wardrobe, and only 6% were unaware about her pregnant daughter.  All but 13% of these Obama voters had heard about the SNL send-up of Palin's Alaska/Russia comments (and apparently thought that Palin actually said this herself), but even though their own candidate said something equally silly, 77% of these voters had no clue about Obama's “57 states” comment.

There is a considerable amount of complaining among left-wingers on the web about this poll.  First, they point out that it was commissioned by right-winger John Ziegler and focused only on Obama Voters (Ziegler has offered to fund another poll for McCain voters but Zogby has declined to do so).  The claim they make is that if McCain voters were asked similar questions the results would be equally embarrassing.  While I'm sure there would be cause for embarrassment either way, comparing the republicans' scores to the democrats' in this poll suggests that the right was better informed than the left.

Of course, if a poll were conducted among McCain voters that included the question, “Which of the candidates is a Muslim” I would guess a disturbingly high percentage would answer “Obama” even though this is not true.   I think that voters on BOTH sides of the political spectrum are severely uninformed.  What bothers me is the apparent trend for more ignorant voters to vote democratic rather than republican, and I can only guess that this is because of left-leaning bias in the mainstream media.  It is supposed to be the job of the news media to educate voters and clear up the disinformation, and they fail terribly.  Not only that, but they tend to make it worse.  News folks spent plenty of time chewing over silly comments made by Sarah Palin like Alaska's proximity to Russia.  Meanwhile, Joe Biden told a completely false tale about Hezbollah during the VP debate that went completely unchallenged by any of the news networks (read my “VP BS Meter” blog for more about this).  Biden either had to know he was lying or was completely confused about  history, and either of those things is several orders of magnitude worse than anything Palin did.  But Biden got a free pass for making up his own version of world history while we were treated to stupid stories about Palin's “witchdoctor” visits and her pregnant daughter.  Even Biden's silly gaffe asking wheelchair bound senator Chuck Graham to stand up received scant attention, and that's at least on the same level as Palin's ditsy moments.

This imbalance was no more apparent than on MSNBC.  It was sickening  to me how Keith Olbernann and Chris Matthews shared multiple orgasms after each Obama speech they covered, while dealing harsh criticism for McCain's events.  The left-wing bias became so blatant that NBC was forced to pull these two Obamamaniacs from the anchor seat and replace them with White House correspondent David Gregory.  However, they didn't do this until after both national conventions were over, and by that time the worst of the damage was already done.  So, can we expect our TV news to be politically neutral as the inauguration approaches?  Hardly.  Leading MSNBC's  Tuesday night coverage will be:  Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow.  I fully expect tears from at least one of them.

Of course we cannot give the media full credit.  Obama mania was not limited to the supposedly neutral news networks.  Howard Stern featured a “man on the street” segment where people planning on voting for Obama were asked which of their candidate's positions impressed them most.  These voters were completely oblivious to the fact that each of the positions given by the interviewer were actually McCain's and not Obama's.



For this election it seems that change itself was more important that what was being changed or how it was being changed.  Obama is a rock star, and it doesn't matter to many of his supporters what he stands for.  In fact, many of them still have no clue.  The only thing that matters to them is “change.”  This and other generic warm-fuzzy concepts are what won Obama the election.

For the record, I should state that I hope Obama ends up being a good president.  No matter our political affiliation, we are all Americans and we all want what is best for our country.  Our soon-to-be 44th president does appear to be much more reasonable about the future than the people who put him in the office.  I know he is a decent, idealistic man with grand dreams of making the world a better place.  However, so was POTUS #39, and I am worried that we are about to inaugurate the next Jimmy Carter.  At some point, the Obama-mania built on fuzzy Utopian catch-phrases like “yes we can” will dissolve and people will start expecting something more specific than just “change.”  I hope Obama can deliver, but I remain very apprehensive about some of his plans for the future.