Keeping up (or not) with the news

Keeping up (or not) with the news
Keeping up (or not) with the news
Maddow Blog chart based on Pew Center data

If you’re reading this text, you know the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act was an extremely important development. Whether you agreed with the decision or not, it was a historic moment that will have enormous implications for millions of Americans seeking basic medical care.

And yet, a pretty large chunk of the country has no idea what happened. The Pew Research Center reports today, “Despite extensive public interest in the court’s ruling, just 55% of the public knows that the Supreme Court upheld most of the health care law’s provisions; 45% say either that the court rejected most provisions (15%) or do not know what the court did (30%).”

I went ahead and put a chart together, hoping it would help drive the point home.

Remember, this has nothing to do with how one feels about the outcome. This is simply a matter of gauging whether Americans know what happened.

And before you argue, “But, Steve, this is just one poll,” let’s also note that in the Kaiser Foundation survey published yesterday, 59% were aware of the Supreme Court’s ruling, while 41% were not.

Chris Cillizza called results like these “staggering,” and he’s right, but it’s a reminder that those who aren’t engaged and don’t make at least some effort to keep up on current events, often have no idea what’s going on.

Why do politicians stick to sound bites? Why do campaign ads so often appeal to the lowest common denominator? Why do candidates feel like they can get away with brazen, demonstrable lies? Because there’s an enormous contingent of the American electorate that’s deeply, almost shockingly, uninformed, which in turn makes them easily misled and manipulated.