Presidential Polls May Not Matter to Voters like Homer Simpson

To what extent does Homer Simpson represent your average American? Frequently shallow, ignorant, and indifferent, Homer makes us laugh. His antics in cartoon Springfield can be over the top, so we easily dismiss them as such.

But when cartoon Springfield looks more and more like our real life Springfields (and everywhere else), Homer’s antics start to feel more and more familiar. And that's why this clip depicting Homer’s last-minute inner monologue while deciding between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is a little unsettling.

Homer’s arguments for and against both Obama and Romney are one-liners. His substantive knowledge on either candidate’s policies is nil. And he’s utterly unconcerned (or unaware) that he does not know about those policy positions. He's also incredibly susceptible to Romney rumors.

Shallow, ignorant, and indifferent. That's Homer. But is that also your average American?

Political campaigns are rhetoric-heavy, especially in the last few months. Coming largely in the form of ads and talking points, political information at this point is often more emotional than it is rational or accurate. For many busy voters, cutting through that rhetoric can be too time-consuming. Some will never try. Instead, like Homer, they often become last-minute swing voters, and their votes matter.

Last year, in a U.S. News piece entitled “Swing Voters Swing Because They're Uninformed,” Scott Galupo wrote:

"One of my hobbyhorses is to track the movements of the Oscillating Low-Information Voter.

He is not a bad person. He may be hard-working and incredibly brilliant. He may be rich or poor or, more likely, somewhere in between. He may, in fact, be a she.

What Oscillating Low-Information Voters have in common is they pay very little attention to politics. Again, this does not imply stupidity — only ignorance. The Low-Information Voter is thus a different animal than the rational non-voter , who may keep up with the news but concludes his vote is statistically meaningless.

For whatever reason, the Low-Information Voter is simply uninformed.

His ideological preferences are transactional, and thus fluid: “What have the guys I just put in charge done for me lately?"

So, what do you think? Is Homer your average American?


This article originally appeared on Ricochet.com.

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Autumn Carter

Autumn Carter is the Executive Director of California Common Sense, a nonprofit research organization dedicated to making government more transparent and promoting civic engagement in California. The organization's government financial and governance research has appeared in major media outlets throughout California and the United States. Autumn began working for California Common Sense when it began at Stanford University in 2010. She later earned a B.A. in Political Science with Concentrations in American Politics and Political Theory. She has conducted academic research regarding public opinion survey methodology, and she specializes in public policy analysis and applying public data. She believes that rich context transforms data into information, thereby imbuing data with true value.

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