Last week, we had a primary in my corner of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (God save it!). Many of the choices were just affirmations: on the Democratic side, both Rep. Mike Capuano and Elizabeth Warren (and you should support her campaign if you can) were running unopposed. But some of the contested offices were pretty obscure. One was for the Governor’s Council, which approves nominations to the judiciary. It’s not an unimportant thing, since there are plenty examples of out-of-control governors appointing idiots to the judiciary.
Another office we elect is the Registrar of Probate. The probate, that’s the one where the doctor pokes you in the…. Wait, it’s not? Oh dear, I think I voted for the wrong thing.
I kid, but here’s the point: not only did I show up and vote (unlike many people), I actually tried to learn about the candidates. And I can’t say I necessarily cast an informed vote. As regular readers might know, I care about politics, and probably don’t qualify as a ‘low-information content’ voter. Which brings us to something Atrios wrote about undecided voters:
I didn’t quite catch who it was, but it was refreshing to hear someone [on] NPR point out that “undecided voters” don’t know or care much about politics. I feel like our entire campaign coverage is directed at mythical people who spend months with furrowed brows studying every little bit of trivia about the campaigns before finally making their decisions. Most of them are stupid about politics and are barely interested.
They’re basically in the same position I was. They know they should vote, but they really don’t have much information on which to base that vote. Yes, at the national level, that ignorance boggles the mind, but, if you’ve ever canvassed, you know that a lot of people just don’t pay much attention at all. It’s something they have to do, like taking the car to the DMV.
On such people hangs our democracy (pun intended).
Which is why, if you want to win elections, you should follow the Mad Biologist’s Pentultimate Political Theorem: people have to like this crap.
Related: This pretty much sums up my views:
CNN commentators talking about how undecided voters love Simpson-Bowles. Undecided voters don't know Simpson-Bowles from their toilet bowls.—
Jeff Smith (@JeffSmithMO) September 07, 2012