For those of us who live with the news cycle on a daily basis, it is sobering to be reminded how many Americans do not. The latest CBS News poll tested the reactions of respondents to the nine Democratic Presidential candidates. Lieberman continues to lead the field at 14%; Dean is third at 10%; and Kerry has slid all the way into a tie with Al Sharpton at 5%. But the shocking result is that even now, after daily news stories, countless appearances, ads, magazine covers and so on, two-thirds of all Americans cannot, without prompting, name a single Democratic candidate.
Many lessons could be drawn from this, I suppose, but one obvious implication is that for those who follow the news closely, it is easy to overestimate the significance of the Howard Dean boomlet. Also: I am often frustrated by what seems to be political ineptitude on the part of the Administration. But perhaps Karl Rove et al. are more tuned in to what Americans actually know, and believe, than I realize.
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