Vanderbilt political scientist Larry Bartels found that “political ignorance matters—not only for individual votes, but also for election outcomes.” In a 1996 article, he simulated a fully informed electorate and found that “on average, Democrats do almost two percentage points better and incumbents do almost five percentage points better than they would if all voters in presidential elections were, in fact, fully informed.” In close elections, those differences could have real consequences.
—Matt Corley: “Most Voters Aren’t Stupid,” The American Prospect, March 27, 2012
Five percentage points is ginormous.
Neil Barofsky showed up this morning. His new book Bailout has caused less sleep at the White House. Ever-equal opportunity, the former Inspector General for Things TARP has made Hill Republicans stare at the bedroom ceiling.
Bailout is at its heart about the process of Washington. It is a process unsettling.
He nails the condescension our elected officials have for our collected intelligence. They need us dumb and hope we are dumb. It serves their incumbent interest.
As crisis breaks, their advantage is to disassemble public opinion and evade expert testimony.
Read the entire Corley essay. Read Barofsky. For that matter, read Geithner.
Oh politicians: The next time economic crisis descends, lift the condescension and learn, compare, and contrast. Washington: Next time, listen to the assembled Allan Meltzer and Paul Krugman. Discuss.