Ignorance contributes to the effectiveness of propaganda

Ignorance contributes to the effectiveness of propaganda

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After the November 2018 mid term Congressional election, some said the Senate results were unfair because Democrats won the popular vote yet Republicans won the Senate.

This claim is misleading at best but mostly wrong as explained by the Washington Post

This meme is highly effective as an example of “What you see is all there is”. Once you learn the details, this claim about the popular vote is meaningless.

This example provides an example of how such memes can make for highly effective propaganda messaging.

Source: Senate results explained: The ‘Senate popular vote’ is not a thing – The Washington Post

If you do not read the article (and you should read it), the main points are:

  • By definition, the Senate is elected as two seats per state, not by population.
  • Only one-third of the Senate is up for a vote, not the entire Senate. Which states are involved changes every two years and can shift the “popular vote” between parties.
  • California has a “top two candidates advance to the general election, regardless of party” system. Being a Blue state, this means the top candidates are both Democrats who receive essentially all of the votes. Stated another way, no Republican votes get counted for California, which is also the most populous state in the country, tremendously skewing the national vote tally.
  • Democrats won 22 of the 35 seats up for a vote or 63 percent of the seats while taking only 55 percent of the total vote tally.

The last point illustrates the sleight-of-hand logical fallacy used in the original meme: Democrats had the popular vote but did not win the Senate, therefore the election was not fair. That of course is not the relevant comparison. The proper comparison is the number of seats won out of the number of seats up for election.

Two national reporters (Ezra Klein, Joy Behar) implied or stated that the Republicans won the Senate due to “gerrymandering” indicating no understanding what so ever of the U.S. Constitution and fundamentals of the U.S. government. Yet these are the people we rely upon to tell us how to think. The result is we are badly misinformed – and how badly we are misinformed will be the subject of an upcoming post.

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