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Poll shows millions of Americans ignorant on new health care law

8:54 AM, Jul 4, 2012   |    comments
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One thing to remember when analyzing the political impact of the Supreme Court's health care ruling: Millions of people don't know what happened.

As a new Pew Research Center poll notes, only 55% of respondents knew that a narrowly divided Supreme Court upheld the bulk of President Obama's health care law last week.

The remaining 45% either didn't know what the court did (30%), or mistakenly believed the court rejected most of the law (15%).

"Among those aware that the court upheld most of the law, 50% approve of the decision while 42% disapprove," Pew reported.

The poll reflected the usual partisan divisions over the Obama health care law, and generational divisions over knowledge of it:

Only about a quarter of those younger than 30 (24%) followed news about the court's health care decision very closely. That compares with 42% of those 30 to 49 and majorities of those 50 to 64 (56%) and 65 and older (62%).

You have to figure many of those who did not follow health care news are voters.

As Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post remind us: "One of the most common mistakes made in political reporting is to assume that the average voter is following the daily news cycle as closely as we are. They aren't."

Adds Cillizza:

What should you take from the Pew poll? That assuming that the electorate is paying close attention to the political goings-on -- even when they are so seemingly high profile as the Court ruling on health care -- is a mistake.

Most people -- especially those who are unaffiliated or independent voters -- tend to be relatively low information voters. That is, they don't have all the facts on an issue -- and they don't really care to find them out.

Sobering for those of us who watch the political machinations on a minute by minute basis? Yes. But also very important to remember when writing and analyzing the impact any given event will have on the November election.

USA Today

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