Lesser of two evils
What I found from the politics survey, so far. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
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Lesser of two evils
Thanks to everyone who took the new survey I rolled out on Friday. We have almost 1,000 replies so far. Sorry for asking you to consider this new one so soon; someday, maybe I’ll get better organized!
I’ll share some of what we learned below. By the way, the link is here, in case anyone else wants to give their 2 cents. But first, I promised an Ask Me Anything event, and we have two updates:
First, I’m excited to do it. But, we need to adjust the date; I’ll schedule it for Thursday, 4/28, at 3 p.m. ET (New York time).
Second, details will be coming tomorrow, including how premium members can watch it or even be in on it (meaning, on the stream with me) if interested. (Space permitting—for technical reasons there are only a few spots.)
With that, let’s get to… the radical middle-ish… from Friday’s survey…
On a scale of 1 to 5
Much as I surmised, it turns out that Understandably is a bit of a rare bird in 2022: a digital media publication with readers across the map politically—although maybe not quite as even distributed as my email replies most days might suggest.
These two charts will tell the tale.
First, how do readers describe themselves politically? We used a 1 to 5 scale, with “1” meaning far left, and “5” meaning far right. Here’s how it broke down, with 961 replies:
5.9% replied “1,” or “as far left and liberal as someone could be.”
27.4% replied “2.”
41.5% replied “3.”
21.1% replied “4.”
4% replied “5.”
I know you can do math, but to save you the early morning effort, this puts us at 33.3% to the left of center, and 25.1% to the right of center, with the remainder right smack in the middle. Again, because I’m into charts:
(A friend and mentor pointed out afterward via email that having offered only five ratings, I might have pushed people toward the middle. So, maybe factor that in, too.)
Biden or Trump?
I’d also wanted to ask something more concrete, so I included the question about how people voted in 2020.
We had 966 replies here. Of those, 4% said they’re not U.S. citizens, and so they weren’t eligible. Another 2% said they didn’t vote even though they are U.S. citizens.
(Asterisk: I’m pretty sure one of these “I’m a citizen, but I didn’t vote” replies was from my nephew, who was only 14 in 2020. I appreciate the reply, though. Also, happy birthday this week, hope you had a good weekend and have big plans for the big day.)
Returning to the parts of this newsletter that are not tangential direct messages to my sister’s son: We had a significant majority of Biden supporters among those who replied—just over 67% of those who voted according to the poll, against 27% for Trump.
This was a bit of a surprise to me, just thinking anecdotally about the replies I receive most days. Also, the numbers add up to less than 100% because of “other” votes and rounding.
What I also found interesting, however, is that a majority of readers said that no matter who they voted for, they were not enthusiastic about doing so:
52.33% unenthusiastic (including more than half of Biden voters);
42.89% enthusiastic (including about 2/3 of Trump voters).
The explanations were varied, and a significant number of those who said they were enthusiastic about voting for Biden sounded as if they might have been more enthused about the negative—voting against Trump, no matter who the opposition candidate was.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but about 3 percent of those who took the chance to say more about their choices used the phrase “lesser of two evils,” unprompted.
Anyway, there is a lot more to say about all of this—and I haven’t even scratched the surface of the 200+ “Ask Me Anything” questions that readers asked, or all of the data about how people feel regarding individual media sources. (Back of the envelope on that—we’re as polarized as you imagine.)
But, that’s the beauty of a daily email newsletter. More to come this week. And if you’d like to add your thoughts, the survey is still open.
7 other things worth knowing today
Emmanuel Macron won reelection as president of France, beating the far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen, with about 58% of the vote—a closer margin than four years ago. For context, in the 1984 Ronald Reagan landslide win in the U.S., Reagan won 58.8% of the popular vote (and all but 13 electoral votes). (France 24)
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv Sunday night, according to Ukraine's presidential adviser. Separate story: A clandestine network of Belarusian railway workers, hackers and dissident security forces wreaked havoc on supply lines in the early days of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and may have helped foil attempts to take Kyiv. (USA Today, WashPost)
Elon Musk might get to own Twitter after all; the company's board is reported to be strongly considering Musk's $43 billion takeover bid. (Fox Business)
European policymakers reached a deal early Saturday in Brussels on a sweeping new law to force the world’s largest tech companies to more aggressively police their platforms for illegal content, paving the way for one of the most expansive regulations to date to address a broad range of harms caused by social networks, shopping websites and search engines. (WashPost)
A U.S. major general was convicted at court-martial for "abusive sexual contact [by] forcibly kissing his sister-in-law after a barbecue in 2018." He's the highest ranking Air Force officer ever convicted of a crime like this, and faces a possible seven years in prison according to reports. (NPR)
New Jersey legalized marijuana, including for off-duty cops—although at least one big-city mayor (Steve Fulop, in my former hometown of Jersey City), promised to fire any officer who tests positive for the drug at any time. (Fox5NY)
Why do all U-Haul trucks have Arizona license plates? Or, if you're old enough to remember, why don't we see 18-wheelers on the road with license plates from multiple states, as was once required? Short version: the law changed. But, I still found this an interesting bit of knowledge to acquire. (CNN)
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