Social Question

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Is the average voter stupid?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25561 points ) October 11th, 2012

I read it in another thread today. I’ve heard it on the airwaves. I’ve read it in articles. I’ve heard it in conversation.

“The average voter is stupid.”

Is there any truth to that assertion?

How do we measure a voter’s intelligence?

Who gets to decide?

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16 Answers

Qingu's avatar

I think most people are depressingly stupid about pretty important matters.

I do think it’s getting better over time though.

gailcalled's avatar

The average voter is, by definition, average. There are as many people both more intelligent and less intelligent.

woodcutter's avatar

@gailcalled

beat me to it because I was out in the kitchen having my shredded wheat

woodcutter's avatar

I think most voters are consummate pessimists.

rojo's avatar

I think the average voter is not stupid but ill-informed, under-informed or at worst, un-informed.

ETpro's avatar

The average voter is probably a bit above average intelligence, because the less IQ a person has, the less likely they are to be engaged at all in the political process, and thus to vote. By definition, the average person has an average IQ. That’s what the whole bell curve thingy is all about.

lillycoyote's avatar

The average voter is average. The U.S. isn’t Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the voters are above average. :-) It’s that whole Bell Curvey thing. LOL.

And as @ETpro also points out the “average voter” is probably more intelligent than the “average American” because they are at least engaged in their own democracy and understand the importance of being engaged than people who don’t vote.

People back and vote for a particular candidate for all sorts of reasons. Some look at the big picture, some are issues voters, even one issue voters, e.g., they might like everything about a candidate but … if that candidate is pro-abortion they won’t support that candidate.

Maybe it’s less about being stupid and not looking at the big picture, people voting “knee-jerk” because of certain issues that are key to them. People can be ideologues, people vote for candidates who agree with them on key issues. That’s kind of how is works. We have a representative democracy. People vote for candidates who they feel best represent them.

And sometimes, as my mother used to say, you just have to go into the voting booth and hold your nose, because your choices stink, but you don’t give up on the process. Voting, being engaged in the political process, is both your right and your responsibility.

Democracy is not something you just believe in; it’s something you do.

Jumping off my soapbox now.

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
serenade's avatar

Lots of people make choices based on deep-seated emotion and then rationalize that choice afterwards with their own facts/evidence. That’s the root of most advertising.

To me, It seems silly to place so much emphasis on intelligence when addressing a binary choice. How much intelligence does one really need to pick between two things, especially in the case of elections, when more often than not, one’s choice of candidate will probably fail to deliver on expectations. It seems like intelligence would be more relevant when addressing a field of sixteen choices rather than two.

Qingu's avatar

@serenade, I dunno. Many people are quite ignorant about the facts of this binary choice, and seem unwilling or unable to research and evaluate the choice in a rational manner.

ucme's avatar

That’s just the above average ones.

Aqua's avatar

The truth is that the cost of making a well-informed vote is very high compared to the benefit one vote will give or the difference one single vote will make in any election.

There are so many complex issues. If each candidate had radically different views, then voting would be much simpler. Since candidates sometimes have similar views that differ in small ways, it’s much more difficult and time-consuming to learn enough about both sides to make an educated decision. Rather than saying that the average voter is stupid, I would say that the average voter is probably more uninformed than anything.

Qingu's avatar

I don’t think the two parties in America “differ in small ways.” And I don’t think it’s hard or time-consuming at all to learn about these differences.

Even if your single vote doesn’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things, it’s inherently important to be informed in a democracy.

Aqua's avatar

@Qingu Right, I didn’t say that voting is not important or that you shouldn’t vote, nor am I saying that Republics and Democrats only differ sightly. I also agree that being informed is important in a democracy.

Blackberry's avatar

I’m glad you asked this question because I need to rant.

I’m in the military, so I tend to know many conservatives. My experiences with them have made me biased because some seem incredibly dense. There’s no other way to say it.

Do you want to know what multiple people have told me regarding voting? They vote republican because republicans give them pay raises. That’s it: only making sure they get money.

Another reason: republicans “empower” people by not giving them handouts, while democrats support people on welfare. Yes, the entire democratic platform is to make sure people work the least amount possible while giving them welfare and handouts, while republicans are busy trying to help all of these people by telling the to work and not live off the government. I can’t believe they figured it all out!

I’m not exaggerating (only the last sentence which was sarcasm).These are the words of people who’ve given their reasons for voting for Romney (or just not voting for Obama).

This line of thinking is so…...stupid, I find myself subconscious ly despising my coworkers because of the stupid shit they say and think.

Obama is going to slim down the military and make us pay for people’s healthcare, then they’ll also not vote for Obama because they heard in some article that the military members may have to start paying for their own healthcare. That’s right: I could go to any medical facility on a base and get any service I need without getting a bill, but if we enact anything similar to the rest of the country, we’re all of a sudden socialists and stealing money from hard workers to pay for poor people.

Geezus man, screw those guys.

ETpro's avatar

@Blackberry The typical Republican voter’s mind set these days, “I got mine, screw you.” It’s built in greed and fear of the unknown, the other.

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