The “How Obama Got Elected” website has a very upsetting video, interviewing Obama voters displaying their bias.

Some are taking this video as proof of how ignorant Obama voters are. But I wonder what kind of answers we would get from a sample of McCain voters, since it’s well-known how learning is a biased process. We tend to better remember what we agreed with, and ignore what we disagreed, a process known as confirmation bias. Given that, it’s easy to assume Republican voters should remember the negative stories about Obama and Biden more than Democrat voters would.

But in this case the answers seem to point to a lack of information gathering more than filtering. In some instances the answers were incorrect instead of just not knowing. The website concludes the media filtered out some information from the public.

The sample in the video is small, but a Zogby poll of 512 Obama voters (97.1% high school graduate or higher, 55% college graduates) reached similar conclusions:

  • 81.8% could not say which candidate quit a previous campaign because of plagiarism.
  • 82.6% could not say which candidate won his first election by getting opponents kicked off the ballot.
  • Only 6.2% failed to identify which candidate has a pregnant teenage daughter.
  • 86.9% mistakenly attributed to Palin the quote “could see Russia from her house”, even though that was Tina Fey’s skit.
  • My impression is that the questionnaire was skewed. Some questions relied on confirmation bias (Obama’s first election in Chicago), while others relied on universally covered news pieces (Palin’s pregnant daughter) that wouldn’t have been missed by anyone alive in the last few months. The bias, indeed, started in the research itself.