Many of my friends constantly question, "how can George Bush be re-elected? Are the American people that stupid?" My answer to that is "no," the American people are not "that stupid," but they are "that un-educated." I believe that Americans are intelligent and ingenious people, but, then the question is still how can Bush be re-elected? I think the answer lies in the demographic break down of the polls. The Washington Post poll (9/9/04) breaks down its results in several categories, one of them being education. For ever category, George Bush does best among persons with high school educations or less. John Kerry does best with individuals who have attained a college degree or better. For example, 52% of persons with a high school education or less would vote for Bush if the election were held today. Bush drops to 46% with college grads. Kerry garners 41% of the vote from high school or less, but rises to 49% with college grads. When it comes to who would do better with creating jobs, Bush once again does best with high school or less, 49%, but drops to 36% with college grads. Kerry only musters 41% from high school or less, but draws 49% when it comes to college grads. This shift from Bush to Kerry according to education is consistent throughout the survey. The less education you are, the more likely you are to support Bush.
Why is this? I don't agree with anyone who says that you need a college education to be "smart", but I do think the level of a persons education does say (generally) something about the quantity and quality of information they get and where they get it. I do have several theories, but nothing conclusive to offer.
First, people with high school education or less tend to read less and be less inquisitive regarding politics and foreign affairs. The more that people follow the news the less I find they support George Bush. There is no way a person can objectively follow the news (excluding FOX) and still find credibility in the Bush administration. Only an ideologue could still believe in Bush.
Second, FOX news attracts less educated viewers than CNN and the other media outlets and then misinforms them. According to a University of Maryland study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) found that 48 percent of the public still "believe US troops found evidence of close pre-war links between Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist group; 22 percent thought troops found weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq; and 25 percent believed that world public opinion favored Washington's going to war with Iraq. The average frequency of misperceptions among respondents who planned to vote for Bush was 45 percent, while among those who plan to vote for a hypothetical Democrat candidate, the frequency averaged only 17 percent. The study also asked "Has the US found clear evidence Saddam Hussein was working closely with al Qaeda?" 68 percent of Bush supporters replied affirmatively. By contrast, only a third of Democrat-backers said yes. CNN and NBC tied as the best-performing commercial broadcast audience for knowing what is really happening. According to Nielsen Media Research, even the "Daily Show with Jon Stewart" attracks a more educated audiance than Bill O'Reilly. I have not met a single educated person who can still argue with a straight face that FOX is "fair and balanced."
It is sad because the demographic that supports Bush the most, suffers the most from his policies. If they knew the truth, if they were informed about the Bush policies, they would revolt against, not support the President. So, the key to a better government is educating the people. Whether you support Bush or Kerry, the most important thing is to be informed about the state of our country and the world. At least then you can have a real idea of who you are supporting and why.