Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Why Aren't Voters Outraged by Trump's Behavior?

Different people have different theories of why people are not outraged by Donald Trump's outrageous behavior. Stephen Colbert thinks people have become numb from years of outrageousness so it no longer registers. Paul Krugman argues that Fox News and other right-wing media outlets have effectively brainwashed many people that the Democrats are Satan's spawn, that no matter what Trump says, he is still better than Joe Biden.

But the real reason is probably much simpler. Many voters aren't reacting to Trump's many outrages because they have never heard about them. "What?" you say. It's been all over the news for months and years. Yes, but a large fraction of the country does not follow the news. Not on TV, not in newspapers, and not on the Internet. They are busy living their lives and politics is simply not important to them. Political junkies (which probably includes most/all of our readers) can't believe this. But do you follow all the latest developments in sports, music, fashion, and business? Dedicated sports fans probably can't believe there exist people who don't have a clue who Caitlin Clark is and dedicated stock market junkies can't believe there are people who don't know whether the Dow-Jones index is closer to 20,000, 40,000, 60,000, or 80,000. But these folks exist.

One study shows that only about one-third of the population follows any news. Another study shows that until close to an election many people spend less than 10 minutes per week looking at political news. That's probably about the amount of time they spend brushing their teeth.

These data don't show that people are stupid. They just show that most people don't prioritize keeping up with politics. They have jobs, kids, and bills to pay. What politicians do and say isn't important until right before an election. Sometimes there is a big story, like a government shutdown that interferes with their lives, in which case they notice, but what Trump said in some rally in far-off Ohio does not register at all. Do you want to know what the biggest news event of 2023 was for most Americans? It wasn't the wars in Ukraine or the Middle East. It was the Chinese spy balloon.

And it gets worse. Only 47% know about the fraud case that NY AG Letitia James brought and won. Only 56% know that Trump has been charged with trying to overturn an election. Only 59% know that he has been charged with illegally keeping classified documents at home.

These low-information voters, as they are delicately called, aren't planning to punish Congress for not functioning because they don't know about it. Most don't know who the speaker is or even who their representative is. Their vote is determined by things that make pundits tear their hair out. In 1992, George H.W. Bush checked his watch during one of the debates, many viewers concluded that he was bored and wanted to get out of there, and then voted for Bill Clinton because he seemed more interested in debating than Bush.

Will the Senate trial of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas affect the election? No way. Nobody knows who he is or what he is alleged to have done wrong. But if Trump goes on trial, that will be such big news, that almost everyone will know. Many people will think: "If he is on trial, he must have committed a crime," even if they don't understand what the crime was. This is why Trump is so desperate to avoid any trials before Election Day. A trial would get everyone's attention, and not in a good way for him. And what if the Chinese sent a balloon to spy on the trial? And then Catherine, Princess of Wales, photoshopped the images the balloon captured? Which of the three would be the biggest news? We dare not guess. (V)

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