It’s no secret that only about half of the U.S. Voting Age Population (VAP) turns out to vote … and that the vast the majority of Americans are poorly (or narrowly) informed on political issues.
These days, pollsters are saying that a high percentage of Americans have a high level of interest in the 2016 Presidential race.
I got into a friendly debate re: whether “interest” is a valid proxy measure for “informed”.
My POV: nope.
For example, how many people were interested enough to watch the Trump & Clinton acceptance speeches at their conventions?
According to Nielsen, an estimated 27.8 million people watched Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech.
Trump scored an estimated 32.2 million viewers for his acceptance speech
Round them both to 30 million and call it a tie.
Let’s put those numbers in context.
The U.S. voting age population (VAP) is approximately 235 million.
Everybody knows that voter turnout is pretty dismal … 55% in the last Presidential election … barely a majority of eligible.
Just to put a marker on the table, let’s pretend that the roughly 30 million viewers who watched Trump also watched Hillary … i.e. a complete overlap.
That would mean that only about 13% of the VAP watched the speeches (30 divided by 235).
Or, let’s go to the opposite extreme and assume that there was no overlap … that folks who watched Trump didn’t watch Hillary … and vice versa.
That would bump the viewership up to about 25% of the VAP.
So, the answer is that somewhere between 10% and 25% of the VAP watched the speeches.
Let’s split the difference and round up … call it 20%.
That’s pretty dismal, right?
Yet, it was enough to give Trump a big bump after his speech … one that was more than reversed by Hillary’s YUGE bump.
My question: if so few people watched the critical speeches, why did the poll numbers swing so widely?
One answer: many more people watched the mainstream media loops that booed Trump said and applauded Hillary.
And, Clinton made a masterful play rolling out the Gold Star Muslim father to attack Trump. … and Trump took the bait stepped in it.
Still, should the poll numbers have swung so wildly?
Points to the power of mainstream media to turn marginally informed citizens’ views …
Ah, the power of the press.