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Politico: How Much Do Voters Know?

March 13, 2012

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Alexander Burns writes that polling numbers are contradictory, with irrationality often transcending both party lines and opinions of the president.

Voters are appalled at President Barack Obama's handling of gas prices, even though virtually every policy expert in both parties says there's little a president can do to affect the day-to-day price of fuel in a global market.

Americans are disgusted at Washington's bailout culture, and especially the 2008 rescue of the financial services industry. They're so fed up with bailouts, in fact, that a majority of them now think federal intervention in the auto industry was a good idea that helped the country.

They're aghast at the trajectory of the war in Afghanistan, which Obama helped escalate and extend, and they don't think the war was worth it in the first place. And many also think Obama is handling the conflict acceptably well.

That's presumably a different set of voters than the ones who routinely tell pollsters that they still believe the president is a Muslim, despite all public evidence to the contrary.

Add up that litany of contradictory, irrational or simply silly opinions, and it's enough to make a political professional suspect the electorate is, well, not entirely sophisticated about the choices it's facing in 2012.

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