Thursday, August 04, 2016

Americans Don't Know Much About Conservatism

Matthew Sheffield recently wrote an article that I highly recommend reading. It has a lot of relevance to how Trump became the Republican nominee. It argues against many common misconceptions about the beliefs of the American people, what media sources they get their information from, and other issues. Here's a representative portion of the article. You'll have to read the whole thing, though, to get a lot more information like this and his documentation for it. He exaggerates some of his conclusions, such as the closing line in the quote below, but he makes a lot of significant points:

The situation is even worse in this regard for conservatives as Pew reported since no single right-leaning outlet aside from FNC [Fox News Channel] was turned to in a given week by more than 9 percent of respondents.

The general unpopularity and obscurity of conservative-focused media makes sense considering that dedicated political conservatives are a small segment of the public, something many on the right have long refused to admit.

When Americans’ political attitudes are measured in an objective fashion instead of the flawed self-reporting method, it turns out that there are far fewer conservatives than many have supposed….

People who are “mostly conservative” tend not to follow media outlets favored by more dedicated conservatives…

Given the data above showing that non-conservative Americans overwhelmingly are reading and watching left-leaning media outlets, it stands to reason that news topics that are important to many on the right are probably not going to be that significant to the public at large.

And that’s exactly the case when we look at specific news stories. For the most part, Americans are generally unaware of what conservatives think….

In addition to not knowing much about the scandals above, most Americans had no idea that the sad state of economic affairs prevailing in 2012 had almost nothing to do with George W. Bush….

Both Obama and Bush [the elder, in 1992] faced reelection with slowly growing economies that had left many Americans behind. But only Bush was held accountable by the national press….

By and large, conservatives have no such positive feedback loops. Instead, the Right’s media monoculture has created negative feedback loops whereby people with little political acumen like Mark Levin, Michael Savage, and Glenn Beck are able to fill Republican voters’ heads with nonsensical ideas like planning to shut down the government with no backup plan or electing fewer GOP officeholders in pursuit of more “pure” ones, primarily because they grossly overestimate the number of conservatives in America. It is poetic justice that many of the same people who pushed these naive positions and strategies saw their own imbecilic noise machine turned against their preferred presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, in this year’s Republican primaries….

The seeming success of Fox News and talk radio has made many conservatives think they now have a massive media empire. In truth, they have constructed an intellectual ghetto that no one else wants to visit.

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