Photo: wikiwand

During the 1984 Presidential election — to test the theory that voting caused people to become as optimistic as gamblers after betting on a horse — seven Cornell researchers stood right outside the door of polling stations and interviewed voters going in and coming out.

The race was between President Reagan, the overwhelming favorite — who was leading polls by 17 to 20% — and former Vice President Walter Mondale; who had served under the continually maligned Jimmy Carter; and was considered, arguably, too liberal to win, actually highlighting that he would raise taxes. Predictably, the Cornell researchers who caught…

Are voters irrational or are they just pretending to be?

Trump inauguration on left, Obama’s 2009 inauguration on right. Image: Paco Jariego.

Right after President Trump’s inauguration in 2017, YouGov conducted a survey comparing overhead photos of President Obama’s first inauguration and Trump’s — with Obama’s looking like an ant supercolony, covering everything bur chewed-up winter trees; while the other shows an (almost) “empty field,” to quote Trump himself.

Many, or maybe most, people who had even cursorily watched news coverage of both inaugurations guessed from the unlabeled photos that Obama’s crowd was the bigger one, while, for whatever reasons, 40% of Republicans guessed that the same photo was of Trump’s.


Scott Johnston

Masters degree in journalism, political junkie, lover of Bhakti Yoga.

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