The Age of the No-Information Voter

Those who, like this writer, have been decrying the advent of the so-called low-information voter need to prepare – or should that be, steel – themselves for the new kid on the block: the no-information voter.

“Sundance,” writing for the Conservative Treehouse blog, adduces a recent Gallup Poll showing Donald Trump enjoying a significant lead in favorability over all of the other GOP candidates:

One should not confuse favorability with preference or electability, either in the primaries or in the election, where the polls are much closer, with, for example, Trump leading Ben Carson by just 4 points, 29%-25%, in Florida.  Trump’s lead over Carson is greater in Georgia, 34%-25%.  But a nine-point gap is hardly insurmountable, especially considering that Trump enjoyed a 22-point lead over Carson only one month ago.  And note the linked-to Georgia article’s headline (emphasis added): “Trump, Clinton still in lead in Georgia, but leads are shrinking, poll shows.”

There is no good news in either poll for so-called establishment Republicans and/or Jeb Bush supporters.  But both groups and anyone who opposes Donald Trump can at least console themselves that, to the extent that these two polls represent a trend, Ben Carson most likely will be the GOP nominee.

Carson’s rise looks even more impressive, as the writer will demonstrate presently, when one looks more closely at the very same Gallup poll, which Sundance touts as evidence of Trump’s “inevitability.”  Here are the Gallup numbers again, but with the writer’s added notations:

Look at Trump’s numbers in the third and last columns.  Ninety-four percent of the poll respondents are familiar with Donald Trump and zero, zip, nada percent have never heard of him.  Conversely, a full 31 percent, almost a third, of respondents have never even heard of Ben Carson.  Which make’s Carson’s rise even more impressive: just six percentage points behind Trump, despite almost one-third of respondents having never heard of him, while all of the respondents have heard of Trump.

Given such numbers, a natural question to ask is, where would Carson be relative to Trump if Carson’s “never heard of” and “familiarity” numbers were the same as Trump’s?  The question answers itself, as it does for at least two other candidates in the table, Fiorina and Jindal, and possibly Rubio and Walker, as well.

One clear implication of the Gallup table is that Trump supporters can stop deluding themselves that Trump is winning on his ideas.  How, for example, can someone who has never even heard of Marco Rubio knowledgably say that he supports Trump over Rubio because of the candidates’ differing views on immigration – or, for that matter, any issue?  As far as someone who has never even heard of Marco Rubio knows or could know, the men’s views could be identical.

How can it be that so many voters have heard about Donald Trump and so many have not heard of Marco Rubio, let alone his views on the issues of the day?  The writer was not surprised at the result when he Googled “[candidate’s name] since June 2015” (the month that Trump announced his candidacy):


Number of Google entries “since June 2015”

(As of 9/5/15, at approx. 11:30 a.m.)





















Since announcing his candidacy, Trump has garnered 184 million Google entries, far in excess of any of the other candidates – four times as many as Scott Walker, the next closest, at 45,7500, and more than 62 times as many as Carly Fiorina.

Based on the Google numbers, one would expect to find a similar phenomenon in the media.  That indeed seems to be the case not only today, but since the moment Trump announced his candidacy, as John Sides, writing for the Washington Post, noted as early as July 20, a month after Trump declared on June 16 (emphases added):

The graph shows two important things.  First, Trump’s announcement generated a much larger spike in media coverage than these other candidates received.  The day before he announced his candidacy,  Trump received 4 percent of the media coverage devoted to these candidates.  The day after, he received 31 percent.

Second, the news media’s attention to Trump hasn’t faded away, as is typical.  He has consistently attracted 20-30 percent of the news coverage of these candidates.  Only Jeb Bush comes close.  In the month since Trump’s announcement, Trump has received 21 percent of the news coverage.  Bush has received 20 percent.

The reason the writer emphasizes Bush’s numbers is because, in the chart, the red line is just for Trump, while the black line constitutes an average of all of the remaining 16 (!) candidates.  So if Bush is polling 21%, one can imagine how low the numbers must be, individually, for the others.

Those critics of Trump, including this writer, who have been harboring a gut feeling that Trump’s traction is overwhelmingly the result of his, for all practical purposes, getting virtually all of the media’s attention can cite the above tables and graph as proof.

The above data also serve to clarify the other candidates’ primary task, which is not to contrast their ideas and proposals with Donald Trump’s, but to get those ideas heard at all.  For as matters now stand, absent a sudden, dramatic, and most likely unexpected breakthrough by one or more of the other candidates (Carly, call your office), the public will get ear- and eyefuls of Donald Trump, 24/7, all through primary season, while the other candidates struggle just to get noticed.

Quite possibly, the only Americans who will know what Carson, Cruz, Walker, Fiorina, et al. think – or, in many cases, that they even are candidates – will be those Americans who physically watch and listen to the debates and the Sunday morning political talk shows.  The writer invites the reader to search his memory.  When, except for their standings in some poll, was the last time the reader read, saw, or heard a story about any of the other candidates – what that candidate did, said, etc., equivalent to, say, the coverage of Donald Trump having a Univision reporter ejected from one of Trump’s press conference (but not, one hastens to add, the substance of Trump’s remarks)?

And while Trump’s supporters can certainly be admired for their devotion to their hero, they should expect no such accolades for consistency.  Not on taxes, not on trade, not on health care, not on property rights, on all of which issues, with the sole exemption of immigration, Trump ’s ostensibly conservative supporters have no problem supporting the Democratic position if Trump does – and opposing the very same position when Trump changes his mind, as he so often does.

Who knew that so many Trump supporters cannot be bothered even to learn what other candidates might even be in the race, let alone what their views and qualification might be?  Or – as would seem to expect in an election in the World’s Greatest Democracy as opposed to, say, the average banana republic – to demand that other GOP candidates be given, if not equal time, then...what?  One half?  One third?  One quarter? – of the time currently devoted to just one candidate out of a field of 17 candidates?

Our friends on the left have long depended, indeed thrived, on the existence of low- and no-information voters, one of whom, these days, sadly, seems to be born every minute.  But the writer had thought that conservatives – or those claiming to be conservatives – were better than that.  Instead, sadly, it is beginning to become apparent that the differences many in the GOP grassroots claim not to be able to see between Democrats and Republicans in Congress may be just as lacking Democrats and Republicans in the grassroots.

Trump!  Trump!  Just say the name, and apparently that’s all many, perhaps even most, Trump supporters need to know.

Worse, it seems to be all they think anyone needs to know.

All hail the Age of Trump!  All hail the Age of the No-Information Voter!

Gene Schwimmer is a New York licensed real estate broker and the author of The Christian State.  Follow Gene Schwimmer on Twitter.