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As a vet of two presidential campaigns, one in each party, I've been watching for a week now, puzzling and looking at crosstabs, and at last I'm prepared to say why I think Obama took a sudden nose-dive in the polls. It wasn't because he "lost" the first debate.

After the first debate, the patronizing term "low information voter" suddenly appeared mostly on the left, in conjunction with who's actually making their minds up from the debates.

It's a stupid term, and worse, it's a vicious term. Do you know who is actually undecided at this point?  Just check the crosstabs of any poll.

It's typically a woman, typically age 50-60, typically white, and most importantly, typically she is working too hard to follow everything. (Those are sweeping generalizations--but I do encourage you to check).  She doesn't know what Romney will do for her but she hasn't seen what Obama has done for her either. To her, contraception is not a big issue, but Medicare/Obamacare isn't a big issue either. It's a lifestage thing.  She's insured to the hilt already and not worried about her future too much.  But she barely has enough time at the end of the day to learn what's happening in the race.

People who are wagging fingers at this "low information voter" are driving her straight into the Romney camp even though he hasn't said he'd do a thing for such a voter either. This is how MSM inadvertently helped Obama nosedive: they picked up the "low information voter" meme, and naturally these people resent being classified as such, and they certainly resent being told what they should be thinking. Bigtime FUBAR for the left, and it was the supposedly left-leaning, certainly patronizing MSM that brought it all on, more than anything Obama did.

At any rate, "Low Information Voter" is far too patronizing a term for someone who's vote you're trying to win.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, karmsy

    "Hibernate between 45 and 65 if you can."--VS Pritchett

    by joseph on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 01:56:32 PM PDT

  •  Where on earth are you getting that from? (11+ / 0-)
    It's typically a woman, typically age 50-60, typically white, and most importantly, typically she is working too hard to follow everything.
    I've been reading about LOVs for years and years, and have never understood that to be a stereotypical LOV.
    •  I think they're confusing "undecided" with (5+ / 0-)

      "low-information" voters. There are certainly a lot of both but for my money (and insults) I lob them at the low-income white voters who think Romney is going to help them in any way, shape, of form. Because THAT is display a shockingly low amount of information.

      If we got Mitt to be slightly less dishonest and gave him some personality he could pass as a used car salesman.

      by ontheleftcoast on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 02:05:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Suddenly? (6+ / 0-)

    You've never heard the term in any campaign before in history?

    I am proud to be a Contributor at Courage Campaign Institute's
    @indiemcemopants on Twitter

    by Scottie Thomaston on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 02:02:29 PM PDT

  •  joseph - interesting insight (0+ / 0-)

    Along the same line, while Joe threw the progressives some red meat last night, which was much loved here, from my conversations with women who are more moderate, or Independents Joe's style didn't do well with them. Guys for the most part liked it, but it was unsettling to many women and not just Peggy Noonan.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 02:03:09 PM PDT

  •  Patronizing my ass! (5+ / 0-)

    It is a nice way to say there are many, many stupid fucks out there, mostly radical, racist, right-wing, redneck, republicans.  These people can internalize only about two talking points totaling less than twenty word.

    Patronizing my ass; it's a thinly veiled smack down of dumbass conservative republicans, especially residents of the south.

    These are my sentiments, not that of the POTUS.  This disclaimer is for the dumb fucks to which I refer above.

  •  I find that demographic hard to believe. (7+ / 0-)

    Why would a woman in her 50's NOT be worried about Medicare and Social Security?  I think the low information voters are just that - all that's in their head is the scary stuff they see and hear on tv and radio.  They don't read widely, probably have just one source of news.

    It's just not Fox.  Those people are already decided.

    •  this is a key demographic though (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and this is why Obama is running all those Medicaid=care for your aging parents commercials in swing states.

      Who do you think ends up worrying about who is looking after elderly mom and dad.   "low information" is not the frame the campaigns use -- but the diarist is on target in looking at a key demographic group that culturally might go to the Rs, but also could go D.

    •  special shout-out (0+ / 0-)

      "Why would a woman in her 50's NOT be worried about Medicare and Social Security?"

      You'd have to actually asked one to know.  I've asked about forty in the past week.

      First, she's not even thinking of retirement, or even that she'll ever be able to retire.  Here's what her work-week looks like: she has a forty-minute commute and she and her husband (or she alone) is working over forty hours a week, and she gets home around 7 p.m.  She doesn't have the energy (or the luxury--and it is a luxury) to log onto the Internet.  She wants something Netflix and to spend half an hour paying bills.  Then she reads that because she hasn't made her mind up yet, she's a "low information voter."

      Special shout-out to the poster who said "It is a nice way to say there are many, many stupid fucks out there, mostly radical, racist, right-wing, redneck, republicans." That is not who she is at all, but if you think that's who she is, naturally she's not inclined to think your way.  "Stupid fucks"?  Thou say'st.

      "Hibernate between 45 and 65 if you can."--VS Pritchett

      by joseph on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 02:15:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Confused.These women you polled are in what (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Crabby Abbey

        income bracket? Just roughly.

        "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

        by tardis10 on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 02:38:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'll be willing to bet "this woman" is able to (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Loquatrix, cachola, Crabby Abbey

        tell you who are the finalists on "American Idol" and has a head full of other pop culture trivia.

        My dad had a term for folks like that: Living by their glands. Being busy is simply not an excuse.

        I have had years of intense work and family obligations, I couldn't tell you now where I got my information, but I have always been able to keep up with current events.

        At the very least, a person has to develop a sense of where they are politically and sift candidates through that sieve.

      •  Undecideds (0+ / 0-)

        are not the same as low-information voters. Low-information voters are people who have already made up their minds on what little info Rush, Fox or other brain-dead sources have fed them. Undecideds honestly don't know yet. They need more information from many sources to help them decide.

  •  It's true that it's an unflattering term (7+ / 0-)

    and not one that any particular individual would relish being labeled with.  On the other hand, it is legitimately maddening that such a huge chunk of our electorate appears impervious to a lot of crucial issues including those that affect them personally.   We can (even more unwisely) impugn their intelligence and motivations, or we can charitably assume that their intelligence and motivation are fine, and it's only their familiarity with full facts that is lacking.  

    In other words, how DO you discuss the problem without saying SOMETHING unflattering?  Because there IS a problem.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 02:09:03 PM PDT

    •  She's too busy, idiot! (0+ / 0-)

      I don't mean to call you an idiot at all.  I just want to call your attention to how it feels to be called one.

      Here's the gist of what people are asking:

      "In other words, how DO you discuss the problem without saying SOMETHING unflattering?  Because there IS a problem."

      One of the women I interviewed was absolutely brilliant at her trade.  She runs an art studio of ten people (all women, fwiw), but she had never heard the name Lilly Ledbetter.  She is simply too busy to follow national political stuff.  She ducks in Terry Gross on the way home, and that's about it.

      This woman works hard to champion other women in her workplace.  She's a Democrat and she will vote for Obama--but she doesn't know all the fine print, she's too busy.  And during the conventions, she confessed to wondering what was so bad with Romney's critique.

      Why would you ever say something unflattering to someone like that? Just because your expertise isn't her expertise, you'd completely trash her?

      She's chosen to spend her days earning money, not following political developments.  She's also a lifelong Democrat, and will indeed vote for Obama.  But she told me that three people in her studio are voting for Romney because when they talked during the conventions, all the women heard from their friends was "You must be an idiot if you haven't made up your mind yet."  But the friends who assured them this didn't have much to back up their audacious judgment.

      Of all the ways to lock in a vote, this is probably the most certain way to fail to do so: to call someone an idiot.  That happened in her studio during the conventions, and she believes it's happened all across America in the past week.  Looking at the attrition of Obama among women in the polls, I am inclined to agree.

      "Hibernate between 45 and 65 if you can."--VS Pritchett

      by joseph on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 02:39:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hmmmm (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10, johnny wurster
        But the friends who assured them this didn't have much to back up their audacious judgment.
        Low information, perhaps?  

        My point is, that lack of information really IS a problem, among supporters OR opponents OR nonvoters.   There may be all kinds of great reasons why someone is not in possession of full and accurate information, but the lack of it is still going to lead to bad outcomes.  

        I'm not in fact advocating addressing individuals with unflattering epithets, although for some reason you choose to pretend I am.  What I'm doing is saying that using circumlocutions won't make the problem go away.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 02:56:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  its not an insult. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp, tardis10

        some people just don't give a shit about politics.  know what I don't give a shit about? my car, or cars generally.  I'm a low info driver, I probably get ripped off by plumbers, I don't know what fluids go in what engine hole, but I've got bigger fucking fish to fry.

      •  The woman in your example has a political (0+ / 0-)

        starting point. Few of us can be totally on top of every issue. I expect this woman knows more than she thinks.

        When I think of a low information voter, I think of a person that sways from one party to another election to election. They vote for the "best person", instead of issues and values.

  •  Your concern is noted n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, crose
  •  By definition, they won't know it's them (10+ / 0-)

    were talking about.

  •  I'll be more patronizing, then (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    parakinesis, WheninRome

    If someone is working off low information but resents being labelled as such, why the heck is that my problem? If I take your premise at face value, I should also resent them for not educating themselves but still having as much say ( if not more due to the electoral college). I often see this attitude all around the Internet from the tea folk who act like they are Mensa members, when in reality they are clueless dolts.

  •  Definitions (6+ / 0-)

    If you are just now hearing the term "low information voter" in this campaign, you may be conflating it narrowly with  "undecided voter," as lampooned last week on SNL.

    But this term has been around awhile and usually has a much broader meaning-- actually as a polite euphemism for the hordes who DO vote, against their interests, based on the superficial and often false propaganda they pick up from limited sources of news, like Fox or hate radio.

    Believe me, living here in the South surrounded by these dangerous morons, no term is patronizing enough for them.

    "What everyone wants is a job and some hope."--RFK

    by For Dean in Dixie on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 02:23:07 PM PDT

    •  you're a dangerous moron (0+ / 0-)

      "Believe me, living here in the South surrounded by these dangerous morons, no term is patronizing enough for them."

      Again, I don't wish to call you a moron at all, only to let you know for the moment how it feels to be called one.  It certainly doesn't help to lock in a vote.

      FWIW, I am certainly not just now hearing the term "low information voter" for the first time.  As I think I've said, I've worked in communications for two presidential campaigns.  But my broader point is that this past week people are presently hearing it to describe themselves--which is indeed a turn-off.

      "Hibernate between 45 and 65 if you can."--VS Pritchett

      by joseph on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 02:47:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How about dumb fuck? (0+ / 0-)

    Anyone who would still consider voting for the GOP is a dumb fuck, and I'm still being kind.

    They don't believe in evolution. That's the equivalent of believing the world is flat. Science is a lie from the pits of hell. This alone should be enough to dismiss the GOP.

    Romney will not release his tax returns. This alone should be enough.

    The GOP is blatantly trying to disenfranchise American citizens from voting. This alone should be enough.

    Foolish wars breaking the soul of our country. Thousands of dead Americans and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi men women and children, murdered.

    The attack and demonization of labor. Does anyone believe Romney means more jobs in America and higher wages? Are you blind?

    I have to hope that Americans will see the difference.  

    •  Ranting may satisfy the soul (0+ / 0-)

      but SOMEONE still has to go out and canvass.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 02:30:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Half the people in this country (7+ / 0-)

    can't name their Senators, according to some poll. According to others, the average American thinks 25% of the Federal budget goes to foreign aid; 75% can't name more than one of the freedoms named in the First Amendment; 60% don't know that there are three branches of government.

    On how our government works, on law, on economics, on geography, on current events, on history, on the world outside the US - on every topic that has relevance to voting decisions, large numbers of Americans are abysmally ignorant.

    "Low-information" does not sound disrespectful to me - I'm hard pressed to come up with a less disrespectful way to describe someone who can't find the United States on a map. Do you think that she thinks of herself as well-informed?

    We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

    by denise b on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 02:42:51 PM PDT

  •  "Deadline Deciders" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You want to try to lock in these voters? I'd recommend calling them "Deadline Deciders" rather than "Low Information Voters."  They identify with deadlines.  They identify with decision-making.  A term that empowers them, not one that denigrates them.

    "Hibernate between 45 and 65 if you can."--VS Pritchett

    by joseph on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 02:51:25 PM PDT

  •  It is a patronizing term (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but quite honestly, why would someone actually vote if they are making decisions based on watching a random debate and not having enough information.

    As an example, i live in CA which means i get to decide about a 100 ballot initiatives a year. exaggeration but still there is a lot of them. I become a low information voter on most of them as I dont have time to peruse through 10 different articles on most of them. Thats why if I dont have enough information on it i leave the mf thing blank.

    I read some of these stories about a lot of these middle age working class people and how bad the economic situation has hit them. it sucks and it pains me. But it pains me more when they think somehow Mitt ultra rich romney is going to do something to help them out. and it pains me even more that our president had absolutely no balls over the last 4 years and listened to larry and tim wall street hacks on a stimulus that even I could have told them wouldnt be enough to help out most working americans.

    obama is so desperate to become lincoln that he forgot that our party is the party of FDR! Franklin big balls DR who told the newspapers, the banks, the rich, congress, and even the supreme court to go f themselves and took the fight directly to them. He championed programs for the americans that needed them the most. he never stopped fighting them. He got re elected in a landslide while the unemployment rate was still sky high and the depression no end in sight because all americans saw how his programs were for them. Had Obama done the same, had he really told the r to go screw themselves. had he forced them to stand there and filibuster all those bills in persona instead of threatening it etc. all those undecided voters wouldnt need debates and ads to tell them which party and president to fight for.

    After Bush I swore that I would fight and donate for Democrats bc never again would i let these monsters back in charge. But quite frankly sometimes i think what the point is when democrats govern like rockefleler republicans.

  •  Nah (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alguien, lgmcp, crose

    It's not a flattering phrase, and isn't meant to be. However, it has been widely used for quite some time and didn't just suddenly enter the election zeitgeist in some way to influence the polls. Further, it is not a phrase that is used to speak to, or about, undecided voters who aren't sure whether to go Romney or Obama. It is is used to explain voters who have, otherwise inexplicably, made up their minds to vote against their interests on some nebulous grounds promulgated by Fox news - like Obama's a communist or a Kenyan or some such.

    " can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem." Mitt Romney

    by Catte Nappe on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 03:01:03 PM PDT

  •  When people who have lost their pension vote for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    a pension-thief, I think calling them 'low-information-voters' is putting it mildly.......

    and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

    by ban48 on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 03:10:43 PM PDT

  •  From online to broadcast (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not going to belabor the point, but the trending scenario I'm setting up is this one: a woman has considerable expertise in a career.  She doesn't especially follow politics.  She's driving home after a long day, and considers herself lucky to have an NPR affiliate on the radio still.  She's wondering who to vote for.  And she hears someone on her radio use the term "low information voter."  And then she hears a guest being snide about low information voters, and how Obama failed to show up for the first debate.

    It's an internet term, mostly--a term that freights some political expertise, and maybe even some political elitism.  It wasn't on broadcast media much before this week, when the other news was that Obama lost the first debate.

    I'll take it further: her phone's ringing.  She sees via caller ID that it's a pollster.  She has declined these calls to-date.  Now, for the first time, she's picking up.  "Yeah, she says.  "Romney."  Maybe it's not so.  But after a ten hour day, she doesn't like being called a low information voter on her way home, and she's also heard that Obama wasn't working very hard to win the first debate either...

    It's just a theory, you understand, informed by a few dozen conversations.  But if you think calling these people idiots &c. works better, that's where you're at.

    "Hibernate between 45 and 65 if you can."--VS Pritchett

    by joseph on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 03:56:41 PM PDT

  •  I agree that Democrats (0+ / 0-)

    can be hideously patronizing towards those who don't vote as they do, or who are still deciding. I struggle with the temptation to voice disrespect myself.

    We just haven't convinced people who don't vote sympathetically that we have their interests at heart. That's OUR fault, not theirs.  

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 03:58:15 PM PDT

  •  Too busy to pay attention to politics voters (0+ / 0-)

    A thief thinks everybody else is a thief; a liar thinks everybody else is a liar; and a Republican thinks everybody else is as selfish and heartless as they are.

    by rubyduby7 on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 05:10:20 PM PDT

  •  I'll be blunt and go with stupid (0+ / 0-)

    I wouldn't want to be accused of being patronizing.  

    Look, if people are "too busy" to figure out what is in their best interests and vote for it --- that's pretty damn stupid.

    Sometimes they listen to their preacher stirring up emotions instead of thinking rationally, but this is the same group that is against all abortions, except the one that they have to have (or their daughter, mistress, etc.).

    There may be some anti-union voters who like right-to-work laws because it saves them from paying union dues, who now have the right to work for minimum wage and no benefits -- that's pretty damn stupid.

    Closer to home here in the South, there are some anti-immigrant voters who don't want them Messicans takin our 'Murkin jobs and then half the sweet potato and onion crops rot in the field --- that's pretty stupid.

    We've seen Krugman this week tactfully say that Republican austerity is stupid, too tactful for it to make much of an impact on the "low-information" crowd.

    Republicans haven't had the lock on stupidity until recently.  Back in the '70s, a lot of them could see that environmental regulation was the smart thing to do and they supported it.  But in my adult lifetime, the Republicans have succeeded in cornering the market on stupid ideas.  Unscientific, greed or fear motivated emotion that doesn't stand the test of logic.  

    Sometimes you just have to call things as they are and point out what is stupid.  Bill Nye did.

  •  If they are truly low information (0+ / 0-)

    voters, how would they even know that someone is calling them "low information voters"? The term has been used by analysts of all political perspectives, so I am not convinced that someone hearing the term used in the MSM will automatically decide to vote for Romney. I agree with you that the term is patronizing, and it definitely should not be used indiscriminately by those promoting our side.

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