Why Campaigns Have So Few “Game-Changers”

My latest post at Model Politics looks at public knowledge of three recent political events: Santorum’s statement about birth control, Obama’s call to Sandra Fluke, and Santorum’s comment about Obama’s snobbery.  The survey data show an unsurprising, but often forgotten, fact: a substantial fraction of Americans aren’t so riveted by this campaign that they know much about these events.  Here’s one graph, based on the survey item about who called Fluke—Limbaugh, Romney, or Obama:

My conclusion:


To point out that many Americans do not know the answers to such questions is in no way to impugn their intelligence or citizenship.  People are busy and have many interests.  They do not always have the time, inclination, or need to follow politics very closely.  These survey results actually do more to question the assumptions of commentators, who are often anxious to inflate every argument during the campaign to a “game changer”—even if many Americans aren’t really watching the game.

[Cross-posted at The Monkey Cage]

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John Sides

John Sides is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University.