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Politico's Alex Burns: Voters Are 'Forrest Gump-like', Lack 'Most Basic Grasp of the Details'

Tim Graham's picture

Alex Burns of Politico has developed a bad case of Peter Jennings Syndrome, right down to accusing the voters of a "tantrum-like response" directed at Obama on gas prices. So far, he writes, the campaign "has been more like a game of Marco Polo, as a hapless gang of Republican candidates and a damaged, frantic incumbent try to connect with a historically fickle and frustrated electorate."

The voters are a gaggle of Gumps: "And 'fickle' is a nice way of describing the voters of 2012, who appear to be wandering, confused and Forrest Gump-like through the experience of a presidential campaign. It isn’t just unclear which party’s vision they’d rather embrace; it’s entirely questionable whether the great mass of voters has even the most basic grasp of the details – or for that matter, the most elementary factual components – of the national political debate."

When last we wrote about Burns -- just three years and change out of Harvard, but with youthful arrogance in spades -- he was "correcting" Newt Gingrich about Obama's abortion advocacy in the state legislature. (It turned out it was Burns who mangled media coverage of Obama's record.) Burns is throwing a premature tantrum at the mere notion that Barack Obama is in political trouble. The voters are having a tantrum well before the actual election, and Arrogant Alex won't stand for it:

"The present furor over gas prices is a case in point: Obama’s job approval dropped 9 points over the last month, according to a CBS/New York Times poll, as the cost of fuel has risen abruptly. The survey found that 54 percent of Americans believe that the president can do a lot to combat high gas prices.

That’s not really true, but it’s a dynamic that’s shown up in other polls too: 26 percent of respondents told an ABC News/Washington Post poll that they approve of Obama’s handling of gas prices, versus 65 percent who disapprove.

For voters to disapprove of Obama’s energy and economic policies may be completely rational. But to reassess a president’s performance in the context of a short-term increase in gas prices is more of a tantrum-like response to a new feeling of discomfort over which the president has relatively little control.

Arrogant Alex is too young to realize this is exactly what liberals said in the Carter years. Pick up a book and learn about recent American history, young man. The star of this voter-dissing story was pollster Tom Jensen, a Democrat:

The first lesson you learn as a pollster is that people are stupid,” said Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm. “I tell a client trying to make sense of numbers on a poll that are inherently contradictory that at least once a week.”

Jensen, a Democrat, pointed to surveys showing that voters embraced individual elements of the Affordable Care Act, while rejecting the overall law, as an example of the political schizophrenia or simple ignorance that pollsters and politicians must contend with.

“We’re seeing that kind of thing more and more. I think it’s a function of increased political polarization and voters just digging in their heels and refusing to consider the opposing facts once they’ve formed an opinion about something,” said Jensen, who has generated eye-catching data showing many GOP primary voters still question the president’s religion and nationality.

“I also think voters are showing a tendency to turn issues that should be factual or non-factual into opinions. If you show a Tennessee birther Obama’s birth certificate, they’re just going to say ‘well in my opinion he’s not a real American.’ It’s not about the birth certificate; it’s about expressing hatred for Obama in any form they can.”

This is the same pollster that NBC's Chuck Todd strongly suggested was ginning up poll numbers "designed to get a higher percentage in the answer than maybe what's actually true" to create a buzz among liberals about the stupidity of conservative Obama-hating voters. Jensen and Alex Burns are a perfect and perfectly arrogant match.


#1 And that explains how

And that explains how Barack Obama got elected.

Don't forget THIS

#2 But Maw,

It's the Republican voters who are stupid. the Democrat voters are enlightened, forward thinking, diverse, educated, multi-cultured, and just all around wonderful.

Americans keeping their own earnings is a Civil Right! Demand your Civil Rights!

#3 the reason voters hold obama

the reason voters hold obama accountable for gas prices is because the msm drummed it into their brains in order to unseat Bush - their chickens are coming some to roost. live by the sword die by the sword...

Congratulations Jimmy Carter!

#4 You left out....

"freedom-loving" and "straight-talking"

"Oh, don't thank me", he said feigning modesty. :-)

#5 First Lesson is Experts are Incompetent

“The first lesson you learn as a pollster is that people are stupid,” said Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm.

If this is your foundation, one should not be surprised that all else fails that is built upon it. The bulk of contemporary theory in behavioral economics, sociology, etc. tells us the opposite: crowds tend to be more intelligent than experts when objectively measured. It's evident that Tom Jensen is in the same company with the mutual fund managers who scam their clients out of billions only to get a return that at best is a fraction of a passive market index.

But it's worse than this crowd/individual dynamic: our DC elites have become intellectually diseased with their contempt for the people. It's an expected defensive reaction to their getting things consistently wrong for decades, resorting to blaming the dumb citizens for not understanding their brilliant plans (like Stalin's directives to plant corn in Russia which unfortunately required a longer growing season than the USSR had and caused mass starvation). I've sat on cross-country flights with Democratic party advisors, including one remarkable New York party machine gal who began the conversation by commenting that she could not believe people live "down there" (as we flew over the Midwest), where "there is nothing there." She was astounded that I live in Omaha Nebraska, immediately asking me if we still had "trouble with the indians" (sic; I expect a Democrat to understand that native american is a bit more acceptable). She was curious if "they" still got violent when they "ran out of food and alcohol." This fabricated progressive attitude toward the natives, the rubes, the hicks, the rednecks, the blacks, the Mexican immigrants, and so on was incredibly enlightening in helping me understand why the Democrats see themselves as the people's savior, functionally replacing God with Party as the Messiah. "Without us, you filthy, dirty, disgusting, repugnant, knuckle-dragging rejects would starve."

These beltway types don't have a clue that those who produce their food often have agriculture degrees and have finance expertise that would blow them away (try running a farm where you have to have many thousands of acres to break even, require a fleet of tractors and combines well in excess of a million dollars, and have a logistics operation from ordering seed through harvest, storage, risk management, etc., that would confound most political science graduates. But then again, these DC rubes have the same perception of those who produce their energy and provide health care, figuring they're much more qualified to "engineer" these portions of the economy through legislative fiat and bureaucratic intervention.

#6 He kinda has a point

but then again not in the way he thinks. Ignorance of the real facts surrounding the issues is mainly the fault of the MSM's propensity to only offer the facts that bolster their notions. Facts and fiction.

I'm no wonk but I'm constantly amazed by how little people pay attention to the issues. They don't know and usually don't care but that doesn't stop them from forming opinions based on an self admittedly flawed premise. When I tell them a provable fact they seem to be truely surprised but annoyed that I shook their comfort zone. They rarely care as their position "sounds good and makes them feel good about themselves" even though I poke hundreds of holes in their logic and show example after example of how it has failed miserable every time it's been done in the past all over the world.

Jeeez, God help us all.

#7 True

The level of ignorance is maddening. Every time you see some moron who can't name the sec'y of state and who can't grasp the most basic tenets of federalism, just remember, their uninformed vote effectively cancels out yours. Gratifying huh? We will never win the argument that it is a privilege to vote, not a right. If one gives up the opportunity to help society they should get no say in the direction it goes. I am not a shareholder of General Electric, thus I don't get to vote in their meetings, why should some illiterate sponge on society get to have a say about policy? Alas that point cannot be made. Look closely at the history of Rome, they started giving half-franchises to keep the colonists happy, and eventually they lost everything they had hoped to keep, and whatever they had left was not worth keeping.

#8 Founders and voting

"We will never win the argument that it is a privilege to vote, not a right."

Of course the founders limited voters to property owners, white male ones at that. That wouldn't and shouldn't be the rule today but the idea of limiting voting to those most likely to be informed is part of the original concept. If some sort of a knowledge test were used to screen voters I suspect that we would have a much better government. Of course the democrats depend on the uninformed (and now illegal) to stay in power so its unlikely to be changed; but it is one of the primary factors that are now bringing about the collapse of the country.

#9 I, personally, don't have an issue...

with the "property owners" part of that. Why should renters get to vote on raising my property taxes? Most renters don't even realize that when taxes go up, so will their rent. That's how erudite they are.

#10 Skin in the game

Study any history? Voting was originally limited to property owners living within the state. A tremendous incentive to own property. Our current (in)justice department is apparently of the opinion that one need not be a citizen to have the right to vote.

Of course, this right to own property has been abrogated by our 'supreme' court (Kelo decision, various epa regulations), but what's a little thing like ignoring the Bill of Rights when something as important as inflicting the power of government is involved?

Given the obvious lack of quality in our 'representative' government, perhaps we should do away with electing the members of the House of Representatives, and select them by means of a draft lottery.  That method cannot result in worse government than we currently have, when legislators pass laws making citizens living within the borders of this nation subject to the laws of other nations..

#11 Who was it who said.....

something like, "the first 535 names in the phone book could do as good a job"?

#12 William F. Buckley

He said he would rather be ruled bt the first 500? names in the Boston phone book than by the Faculty of Harvard.

#13 as good a job

I think it was Wm. F. Buckley, (Sounds like something he would say but no search results matched) the quote was something like "The first 500 names in the phone book could do a better job than the regents at Harvard."

#14 These Folks are Dizzy - What with all the Spinning they Do!!!

Value of What a so called journalist has to say today - ZERO!!!
Value of a Poll in today's environment - ZERO!!!

If he thinks that calling the voting population stupid or "having a temper trantrum" is a good way to influence or sway an opinion - he has some serious learning to do!! Sure looks to have wasted a lot of money at Harvard!!!

#15 Forrest Gump

Exactly the kind of man despised by the liberal elite. Forrest was a man true to himself and to his friends, happy and content in his life, patient and perservering, not proud, a successful business owner, and generous with his own money.


Jesus Loves You so much He died for you

#16 You forgot

You forgot the silver bullet: Forrest was unceasingly honest.

"Beauty is only skin deep, but liberal's to the bone." - me

#17 Good morning Kid

That's the most important one.


Jesus Loves You so much He died for you

#18 Honest?

Just the sort of person that liberals love to pillory and denigrate. Take a look at what they're continuing to do to Sarah Palin. The leadership of BOTH parties are terrified of what she might do if she were to be elected to the Presidency.

#19 Double "Amen"!

One for the post. One for your tag line.

#20 The People

One thing I have noticed, that most people do not do their homework, on either side.
However, I have noticed that my liberal friends are the worst, just listen or read the
liberal papers and never check the facts. Nor do they add up the numbers, even the
least educated can figure out that the numbers don't add up. They seem to have a
cult following of Obama, like the media. The GOP not a whole lot better, just look at
who we (both dem's and rep) elect.


#21 People aren't stupid..

but they would rather spend their spare time on sports, video games and social media. If we can get them to focus on politics they would grasp what is happening and many do already instinctively. The problem is they don't think there is a much of a difference in either party so why waste time if the same old will always happen anyway.

#22 Good luck with that

Get them to focus on politics? Really? Never gonna happen. Because, in reality, based on outcomes, there little difference between the two parties. Deficits go up, gas prices go up, unemployment goes up, wars get started...etc
It really doesn't seem to matter who is 'in charge' both parties serve the same master.
Ok, call me a cynic

#23 "Stupid is as stupid does."

Of course, Burns is talking about conservative voters....

Obama's liberal adorers are actually very well informed on issues, which is why that idiot thought with Obama as president she wouldn't have to worry about paying her mortgage or putting gas in her car....

They all voted for Obama based on hard facts, not feelings.

\sarc off

A caller to Rush the other day related that a woman co-worker said she was disappointed in Obama, but he was the first black president and she had to give him another chance.

There's your 2012 Obama voter, Mr. Burns. 

Forrest Gump's mother was right: "Stupid is as stupid does."


#24 Amazing breathtaking arrogance.

I don't know where to begin, the arrogance of this man is monumental. Does he believe it was the elites that made this country what it is? Does he think the American people are a bunch of neanderthals that are incapable of acting rationally? Apparently he does and he forms his opinions from on high where he believes he reigns intellectually. I have a hot flash for you, being educated and intellectually gifted does not make you a decent person. Quality and character have nothing to do with intelligence, witness the many very intelligent well educated criminals. The everyday American, the ones who work, provide a home, love and care for children and kindness to their neighbors are who makes this country great. Why do we grumble about fuel prices, because most of us, the great majority of us must drive to work? Everything we eat, drink, or touch rides on a truck, so when fuel prices go up, so does everything else. Most of the liberals I know, don't own cars or drive infrequently, they are not impacted having to fill their gas tank every week. Most Americans do not live in areas with mass transit available so the opportunity to not drive isn't a choice. Finally, this is what Obama and his minions have said they wanted from the beginning. They hate fossil fuels, but can't seem to understand the fact there are no substitutes available. The biggest outrage to intelligence I've heard was Obama touting algae. Has the man any concept how many algae farms there would have to be just to provide fuel for the state of California? Where are you going to put them? All over the world people are discovering wind power is a bust, it is very expensive, unreliable, and may have health affects for people living near them we haven't investigated yet. So during the campaign, Obama tells us energy prices are going to have to go up, he wants them so high we won't be able to afford it. Now, he is beginning to realize every time a voter has to fill up his tank, he gets angry, very angry, and who is copping the anger, Obama. Now he is trying to blunt the damage, but it is probably too late, remember the pipeline, people perceive it would have helped had he not killed it. He has been discovered to be twisting the facts about oil production, the increased production is only on private land with permits mostly authorized under Bush's administration. Liberals approach conservation from an emotional point of view, they will not allow logic to enter their thinking. I actually have nothing against alternative fuels, clean energy and the like. What the environmentalists can't or won't grasp is the transition will take 100 years, not 4, not 10, not 25. It took us 200 years to get to where we are, we won't change it in 20. Now they are paying the price for their stated objectives, and the can't get away from the blame.

“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” -Winston Churchill

#25 paragraphs are your friend

nuff said.

#26 When one is on a "free

When one is on a "free association" roll....paragraphs don't matter. ;-)

#27 Good morning MB

You're correct, there's no continuity nor coherent thought to sepatate here.


Jesus Loves You so much He died for you

#28 "sepatate" he said....

doing his Pootie Tang impression this mornin'.

#29 Good morning cowboy

One of my fingers must be a democrat.


Jesus Loves You so much He died for you

#30 Logic, reason, truth and

Logic, reason, truth and occasionally posting something worthwhile is your friend. Nuff said.

#31 Do you think in paragraphs?

Maybe we should adopt Victor Borge's ideas on spoken punctuation. Paragraphs are an invention designed to interrupt your train of thought. Explain their usefulness other than as artifacts.

“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” -Winston Churchill

#32 You need to get out and meet working Americans, Mr. Burns

BURNS: "For voters to disapprove of Obama’s energy and economic policies may be completely rational. . . . "


BURNS: ". . . But to reassess a president’s performance in the context of a short-term increase in gas prices is more of a tantrum-like response to a new feeling of discomfort over which the president has relatively little control."

No, Mr. Burns. Like their earlier assessment of Obama's economic policies, it's completely rational.  The President's own Energy Secretary testified on the Hill that curbing the rise in gasoline prices is not a priority of this administration.

This isn't a "reassessment" of the President's performance; his performance numbers have been worrisome to the White House since 2010. The rising gas prices are merely driving the discontent higher because it has created immediate pain across virtually all commercial endeavors.  For example, every commercial product that moves by truck or rail goes up in price because of fuel price increases.

Rising gasoline prices will kill any kind of recovery this Administration claims we're making.

#33 Yet ANOTHER Nobel laureate:

“Somehow,” Chu said, “we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” - Steven Chu

Anyone starting to see a pattern here?

#34 Ignorant Voters

There is no doubt that there is a large percentage of the electorate that is ill-informed or ignorant of the facts and it is surprising that they haven’t messed up this democracy a lot worse than it already is. Of course it’s the worst cases in this category that the Democrats love. A good case in point is the voter id laws. Now in my way of thinking, if someone is so incompetent or ignorant that they can’t come up with a picture id on their own, how could they come close to comprehending the complex political issues of the day? They can’t but these are the voters the Democrats love because they can herd them up on voting day, give them a big pep talk on the evils of Republicans and the saintliness of the Democrats as they guide them into the voting booth. It has been a good racket for the Democrats for a long time but I hope the voter id laws start putting a crimp into it.

#35 The media pays these lame brains six & seven figures for

analysis unworthy of a college sophomore. That's part of the problem. Look at the continued treatment of AGW as "established fact". The refusal to look into Critical Race Theory. The same liberal sources that were hammering on Bush for gas prices a few years ago are now frantically insisting that the President is utterly helpless to do any thing about gas prices.

How can you have an informed electorate when the biggest megaphones belong to those who frankly are not very smart?

#36 Ignorant Voters??

We know a lot more than the libtards of Holly-weird or any of the left wing news pundits. They live in a fishbowl of ignorance in a sea of knowledge.

#37 Gump was

a combat veteran if I recall correctly.
So I guess we Gumps better armor up.
If the Orcs in the media want a fight, then let it begin here.

If you're not getting flak, you're not over the target.

#38 The Balrock

Ye shall not PASS!

"Be an information soldier in an army of one; where no one can follow, only lead." David Kramer

#39 psssst..... was "Balrog", but good on ya anyway.

#40 I am...

Forrest Gump!

#41 It is the elitist liberals who are clueless.

They live in their cities and universities, keeping to their own, never venturing out of their carefully constructed little bubbles to see how real people think and feel. Obamao is a perfect example.

#42 unicorns

Oh, if only we were all as smart as those media liberals, what a wonderful world this would be!!!

#43 Here's an idea for the Beltway Bunch

Cut them loose from the Southern & the Midwest States. I hate to see them lower themselves to depend on us rubes for food and taxes, etc. They can live on lobster from Maine and am sure they'll figure out what to do about energy and wheat and young men for their military, mundane things like that. Maybe one of those Harvard professor fellers has a self-sustaining plan, eliminating the need for the toothless ones.

Personally I think they've outlived their usefulness for the rest of us, and since they don't need us, let 'em eat DC cake inside that nice little beltway.

Geez Louise

#44 Standard liberal pap

Libs have always looked down their noses at the hoi polloi who didn't go to the elite schools, who don't get invited to the fashionable soirees, who don't have the money to pretend that gasoline prices don't matter.

It's what Greg Smith's letter is all about in the NYT. The maggots of arrogance crawl around in the toxic night soil that is liberal culture, infecting everything they touch.

You were born American. That's the best break anybody ever got.

#45 I misread this story - the

I misread this story - the whole time I thought this guy was talking about the MEDIA!!!!!

#46 I'll take College Elitists for 1000, Alex.

Well, there's a simple solution, Alex. Institute and enforce a College ID requirement to vote. After all, you college educated people are FAR smarter than the rest of us. I'm sure you understand the subtleties of society far better than the rest of use, especially the penumbras associated with politics, correct?

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States. The US Constitution

Unless you're a fetus. The US Supreme Court

Or Anwar al-Awlaki.

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