Top political scientist: U.S. voters are ‘pretty damn stupid’

Byron York
Washington Examiner
11/21/2010

Political reporters often rely on University of Wisconsin political scientist Charles Franklin for expertise.  In just the past few months, his insights have appeared in articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Associated Press, Politico, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, and many other publications.  He’s also a co-founder of the influential website Pollster.com, as well as co-director of the Big Ten Battleground Poll.

So Franklin answered with considerable authority when he was asked, at a recent forum on the November 2 election results, why Republicans emerged victorious in so many races.  “I’m not endorsing the American voter,” Franklin said.  “They’re pretty damn stupid.”

Franklin was responding to a question from Bill Lueders, news editor of Isthmus, a weekly alternative newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin.  In an account published Thursday (H/T Ann Althouse), Lueders says he asked Franklin why “the public seemed to vote against its own interests and stated desires, for instance by electing candidates who’ll drive up the deficit with fiscally reckless giveaways to the rich.”

“Franklin, perhaps a bit too candidly, conceded the point,” Lueders writes.  “‘I’m not endorsing the American voter,’ he answered. ‘They’re pretty damn stupid.'”

The article continues at the Washington Examiner.

Althouse writes: A Madison liberal struggles to understand the 2010 elections and runs to the classical liberal explanation: The people are stupid. :

…Welcome to my world: Dane County, Wisconsin, home of people who tell themselves they are the smart people and those who disagree with them must certainly be dumb. They don’t go through the exercise of putting themselves in the place of someone who thinks differently from the way they do. But how would it feel to be intelligent, informed, and well-meaning and to think what conservatives think? Isn’t that the right way for an intelligent, informed, and well-meaning person to understand other people? If you short circuit that process and go right to the assumption that people who don’t agree with you are stupid, how do you maintain the belief that you are, in fact, intelligent, informed, and well-meaning?

What is liberal about this attitude toward other people? You wallow in self-love, and what is it you love yourself for? For wanting to shower benefits on people… that you have nothing but contempt for.

IN THE COMMENTS: Prof. Franklin responds. I front-page his comment here.

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