The Perils of the Low Information Voter

29 Sep

The bailout plan fails in the House. And hey, the Dow closes in -700 territory. So that’s exciting.  

On the political side, I can understand the behavior of representatives who claim to be receiving calls 100:1 against the bailout. They’re worried about protecting their seats and watching as their vote is painted as a taxpayer giveaway to billionares. But this is the one of the real-word consequences of the the “low information” voter.  The bailout is a complex and confusing morass that requires a lot of technical knowledge.  So we’re asking the voter–who hears “bailout” and “fatcat” thrown around like CNBC is covering a national game of Monopoly with the Fed playing the roll of Mr. Moneybags, complete with Depression-era monocle–to smile and put their faith in unelected technocrats. 

This is, in part, a trust and information problem. If more voters understood the problem, they might be inclined to support the bill. (I’ll also note that some of this blame could be shared by Congress and the Bush administration for not selling this better). If some voters had more information, they’d know enough to understand…that they don’t know enough. 

Instead, they call and complain to their local representative, allowing the House GOP to cry partisanship. Best comment comes from a friend in investment banking:

LOL. No! They’re [the Republicans] protecting the little guy by insisting on tax incentives for speculative investment. Wheeeeeeee! We’re all doomed!

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2 Responses to “The Perils of the Low Information Voter”

  1. ib_monkey September 30, 2008 at 11:20 am #

    There may be a bright side — with all these phone calls to congress the telecom sector is surely headed for a bull run!!!

    (Verizon quietly updates earnings forecast. Sovereign Wealth Funds and hedgies salivate, also buy a healthy dose of naked shorts to hedge their bets. Prices for vzw credit default swaps hit new low. McCain and House Republicans demand further deregulation. The Devil stands alone at Armageddon. God waits in the soup line.)

  2. Mark Golding March 13, 2009 at 8:42 am #

    Low information starts its journey as a State Press Release, gets piped into the sycophantic news wire that coats it with a little journalistic emulsion (teflon) that makes the data within it unrecognisable to the retina and the brain. Deep psych ops is used to shower the public with bright emulsion of colourful words that raise levels of trust and lower the threshold of suspicion. Read Flat Earth News by Nick Davies an insider who tries to spill the beans without upsetting his profession.

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