Scandinavia and the World

Comments #9775456:


Play date 28 6, 7:49am


"You're right - we really should have this conversation in Swedish instead.
Because obviously your Swedish is much better then my English - right?"

Oh relax, I was just pointing out that you were setting up a false dichotomy between 'Republican voter' and 'leans Democrat'. Your English is fine. If you want noone to understand the conversation, though, we could have it in Irish?

"It's a very well founded and well known fact in political science - and by both political parties.

Which is why the Republicans engage in widespread voter suppression in numerous states."

Yes, I am aware of that - and it means that there is a group of Americans who would like to vote but can't. But that group doesn't nearly cover all the people who don't vote - and I was objecting to "So the vast amount of the people that doesn't vote aren't Republicans and if they'll ever vote it will be for the Democrats.". Voter suppression doesn't account for a majority of the 55% of America that didn't vote. Honestly, I doubt it accounts for 5.5%.

Besides, we were talking about people who don't vote but might. Not the people prevented from voting by unjust laws.

(I don't entirely agree with what you said, but that's off-topic.)

So, if it is a well known fact amongst political scientists that people who don't vote will vote Democrat, I trust you have some kind of source? Political scientists do at least tend to write down their 'well known facts' somewhere.

"And yes, it's also a well known fact that Americans are poorly informed about many issues - including politics. Their appallingly bad school system is to blame for that, "

Don't get too cocky, most countries get similar results. Yes, America is particularly bad. But it's by no means an outlier. It is simply not worth most people's time to keep up with politics. As shown by the fact that the correlation between political knowledge and education isn't actually that strong once you account for demographic factors (and it's absolutely dwarfed by the strongest correlation, which is with the degree to which one finds politics interesting). No citations here, since you're the one making the claim (that the USA is worse than other democracies), so you're the one who needs evidence if you want to support it.

In any case, being better informed about politics doesn't correlate with being on the Left. If anything, it correlates with being more Libertarian (high-information voters are more concerned with both economic and personal freedom according to, f.e., S Althaus, Collective Preferences in Democratic Politics, 2003).

"which is explained by political science by the different make-up of the different parties."

Well... yes. Though I'd point out that Pew only claims that part of the difference is due to demographic factors.

I'm not claiming that Republicans are Republican *because* they're better informed. Like I said, that trend seems to be towards the Libertarians (which probably explains why they do so badly). But the reason for the gap doesn't change the fact that the image of Republicans as ignorant and paranoid, whilst possibly true, applies at least as well to the Democrats.

"But, if you look at the different parties policies you quickly realize that a majority of Republican voters are in fact voting for policies that in no way benefit themselves, but rather only hurt their own economic interests."

This has actually been studied a *lot*. So I'll just give you a couple of citations or we'll be here all day. According to research such as D Chong Degrees of Rationality in Politics and L Huddy, J Jones and R Chard, Compassion vs. Self-interest: Support for Old-Age Programs among the Non-Elderly, 2001, pretty much *no* voter is self-interested. In general, the members of the electorate (both Democrat and Republican) genuinely do seem to vote for what they believe to be in the national interest. To me, this doesn't really seem like a bad thing, tbh.

So no, the majority of Republicans voting against their own interests is simply not unexpected behaviour in any way. By itself, it indicates neither lack of information, nor lack of rationality. If anything, it indicates a lack of selfishness.

"But they do so because they're fed fear based propaganda that distracts their attention from the real issues towards made up bullshit like Obamacare "death panels", kneeling during the national anthem or lies about an "invasion" of immigrants, "

That which is asserted without evidence may be dismissed without evidence.

Honestly, that's probably true of certain Republicans - but I really doubt the assessment of a low-information Democrat would be any better. Based on that Pew article, 54% of them might be voting to reduced the size of the government.

Again, it doesn't matter *why* the Republicans are better informed, it's simply a fact that they do tend to be, and in general, the better informed someone is, the less likely they are to be voting for a reason that isn't true.

Oh, related, my understanding is that the D-R gap is still there when you compare the median scores on quizzes like that one. Which should at least significantly reduce the influence of wealth. Though if that *wasn't* the case, and it really was just a small group dragging everyone else up, that would imply that almost all high-information voters would have to be Republican (since there are so few high-information voters to start with, you need a lot of them to significantly influence the average). Which, since voters aren't selfish, would actually be a solid reason to think the Republicans might be right. In the same way that when pretty much everyone who knows a lot about science says that global warming is a thing, you listen.

"This fear based propaganda has been pushed for the last decades by the right and it's safe to assume that anyone that could be reached by it and is susceptible to it has already succumbed to it."

[Citation needed]

Especially since a lot of non-voters probably don't bother with boring politics stuff long enough for said propaganda to reach them. Even a steady diet of Brietbart would probably tell you which side are the baby-killers who want to make Our Brave Soldiers fight ISIS with sticks and stones. And yet you'll note that on the survey you linked, a lot of people simply didn't know the answers. Fox News can't influence you if you never watch it and skip all the links on Facebook because politics is boring.

"If you're told and believe that life as you know it will end if you don't vote for the Republicans, you obviously do."

Not really. Your chances of actually influencing the outcome of an election in America are... really bad. I've seen someone say 'one in a million', but even with the most favourable conditions possible, that's generous. And voters appear to understand this pretty well (which is possibly why they don't vote in a self-interested way). To borrow a metaphor, voting is like playing the lottery. The payoff might be huge, but the chances of winning are still so low it's not worth it. Except people play the lottery because it's fun, and voting is kinda boring. People say that those who didn't vote have no right to complain precisely because even those who care deeply about politics often don't bother to vote.

So no, there is no reason whatsoever to think that that spare 55% would swing either way.

"it's commonly accepted knowledge in the field of political science and in both parties."

If you want to claim that something is commonly accepted knowledge, prove it. Because so far you have provided two sources, and that's being generous and count Wikipedia. It is not commonly accepted knowledge *I've* ever heard.

Republicans suppress the vote, generally speaking, in demographics that tend to vote Democrat. There will never be a Republican law that makes it harder for old rich white men to vote. Stopping Democrats from voting is obviously good for them, regardless of starting position.

You are correct that higher turnout is generally good for the Democrats. But that doesn't mean what you seem to think. Divide America into 'voters', 'maybe-voters' and 'non-voters'. The Republicans have more in the 'voter' group, the Democrats have more 'maybe voters'. But the maybe voters have already been 'awaken'ed - they're just not reliable. This tells us nothing whatsoever about what the non-voters might do. And turnout hasn't been above 60% since 1968, so my guess is that probably 30-40% of the population (the majority of those who didn't vote last time) fall in the 'non-voter' group.

America wearing England's shirt