Thirty-Two Percent of Americans Wonder: Who’s Antonin Scalia?
Low-info voters embarrass once again.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away over the weekend, will be sorely missed in the conservative sphere. He leaves behind a legacy underscored by a rare and exceptional intellect; sadly, the same won’t apply to many of today’s low-info voters. Despite Justice Scalia’s having served nearly 30 years on the nation’s highest court, a remarkable 32% of Americans said they had “never heard of” him, according to a July 2015 Gallup poll.
Sadly, such naiveté is increasingly common on both the Left and Right. Last December, Public Policy Polling found that nearly as many Republicans (30%) would green light airstrikes against the mythical city of Agrabah, as would 19% of Democrats. We suppose the more important question is whether it should be carried out by Aladdin or his wife, Jasmine. As columnist Jeff Jacoby wrote, “The Agrabah prank is the latest in a long line of seemingly serious poll questions highlighting the public’s lack of knowledge.” There are countless other examples. Last March, Media Research Center’s Dan Joseph was hard pressed to find any American University students who could identify just one senator.
National Review’s Jim Geraghty put it best: “Strangely, the percentage of people who said they had ‘never heard of’ Antonin Scalia increased from 29 percent in 2001 to 39 percent in 2005. Was that the Greatest Generation, who read newspapers, dying off and the Millennials, who never look up from their cell phones, entering the polling sample? This is a free country, and you’re free to not care, and free to not pay any attention to, say, one-third and arguably our most powerful branch of government. … But if you choose to pay no attention to these things, and refuse to read anything about them, watch anything about them, or learn anything about them … then I’d rather you left the voting to those of us who do care.” Indeed, the very notion of liberty hinges on it.
- Antonin Scalia
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