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Jewish World Review
Nov. 24, 2008
/ 26 Mar-Cheshvan 5769
Not so smart after all
Liberals think of themselves as being a good deal smarter than conservatives are. An example is this e-mail I received after last week's column:
"Mass support behind the conservative movement in America comes mostly from lower middle class voters, many of whom are poorly educated and inarticulate. The perfect example is feelings about Sarah Palin. The base of the Republican Party loves her, precisely because she mispronounces words, speaks ungrammatically, displays poor grasp of complex ideas ... and has a spotty, undistinguished educational background. In other words, she reflects the Republican Party's base ... as a mass movement it reflects stupidity and ignorance."
A Zogby poll released last week casts doubt on the notion it's conservatives who reflect stupidity and ignorance. Mr. Zogby asked a dozen questions of 512 Obama supporters, 55 percent of whom have college degrees.
94 percent correctly identified Sarah Palin as the candidate with a pregnant teenage daughter;
87 percent identified Ms. Palin as the candidate who said she "could see Russia from her house;"
86 percent identified Ms. Palin as the candidate associated with a $150,000 wardrobe purchased by her political party;
81 percent chose John McCain as the candidate who was unable to identify the number of houses he owned;
81 percent knew it was Barack Obama who said the government should redistribute the wealth;
53 percent knew it was Joe Biden who predicted that Mr. Obama would be tested by a generated international crisis during his first six months as president;
44 percent knew that it was Mr. Obama who started his political career in the home of two former members of the Weather Underground;
43 percent knew that Democrats controlled both the House and Senate;
28 percent knew it was Mr. Biden who had to quit an earlier campaign for president because he plagiarized a speech;
23 percent knew it was Mr. Obama who claimed to have campaigned in 57 states;
17 percent knew that it was Mr. Obama who won his first election by getting all of his opponents removed from the ballot;
12 percent knew it was Mr. Obama who said his energy policies likely would bankrupt the coal industry.
Only 46 percent of the Obama supporters were able to answer half or more of the questions correctly.
Apart from the appallingly low percentage of Obama supporters who could answer the basic civics question of which party controls Congress, the results reflect more what the news media chose to emphasize in their reporting than the awareness of respondents.
What the news media chose to emphasize was trivia, slanted against the Republicans in general, Ms. Palin in particular, not all of which was true. (Ms. Palin never said she "could see Russia from her house." That quote came from Tina Fey, who impersonated her on "Saturday Night Live.")
That Sen. Obama said his energy policy would bankrupt the coal industry is rather more important than Ms. Palin's wardrobe, but if the news media chose not to report it (and most did not), then the Obama supporters polled can't be blamed for not knowing it.
The poll was commissioned by conservative documentary filmmaker John Ziegler ("The Path to 9/11"). Random post-election interviews he'd done with a dozen Obama supporters indicated a deplorable lack of knowledge, and he wanted to see how widespread it was.
Liberals assert that if McCain-Palin supporters were asked the same questions, they'd display a comparable level of ignorance. Mr. Ziegler has a wager for them. If a liberal commissions the same poll of McCain supporters and they do not score significantly better than the Obama supporters did, then Mr. Ziegler will pay the cost of the poll. But if McCain-Palin supporters do significantly better, then the liberal must reimburse Mr. Ziegler for the cost of the original poll. I doubt Mr. Ziegler will get any takers.
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
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