Keeping in mind that there are three kinds of untruths — lies, damned lies and statistics — some rather rummy numbers emerged from Public Policy Polling’s poll of 1,256 likely Republican primary voters in Alabama and Mississippi.
Only 26 percent of the likely voters polled in Alabama believed in evolution — 60 percent did not. In Mississippi it was 66 disbelieving to 22 percent who believed, a still starker gap. It’s about ten percent higher than the American population at large.
And 52 percent of Mississippi voters — and 45 percent of Alabama voters — think President Obama is Muslim. Are you kidding me? Where have they been for the past four years?
The answer may be simpler than I thought.
They were in the 1920s.
Unless you take time travel into account, many of the numbers this election season don’t make much sense.
I don’t know why it didn’t strike me sooner. So many of the issues at stake this year are Issues I Thought We Resolved Several Decades Ago. This is 2012, with lots of economic distress and voter unrest to go around. Why are we suddenly prioritizing Taking Back Control Of Women’s Bodies For The State?
But if you consider the Time Traveling Vote, it all makes sense.
I am not sure how big the vote is. But if the recent actions of many state legislatures are to be taken into account, it is surely substantial.
To visitors from the past, these issues are still pressing and vital. They don’t care about jobs! Once the election’s over, they’re headed back to 1926, where the economy is still roaring and everyone is flapping and doing the Charleston.
It certainly makes more sense than the assumption that they’ve simply been ignoring all the headlines, most of the textbooks, the entire women’s rights movement and the scientific consensus for decades.
No, logic dictates that these voters arrived from 1925, specially, just so they could vote in this election. When Newt Gingrich says that this is the most important election of our lifetimes, he is in no way exaggerating. It’s the most important election of our grandfathers’ lifetimes too. These Time-Traveling Voters are making a big splash this season, when they aren’t being startled by all the improvements to horseless carriages. No wonder many support Rick Santorum. His attire no doubt makes them feel at home.
All this time we worried that yelling wild, unhinged things into the electoral winds was damaging the candidates and ruining the process! It seems we were wrong. If I had any advice for voters in this truly landmark year, it would be, “Try to sound more like William Jennings Bryan.”
This also explains Ron Paul’s popularity. Himself a time traveler (from 1935, anyway) he has been delivering a variant of a Bryan stump speech — “Let’s Be Crucified on a Cross of Gold Again” — for decades now.
Still, the Time Traveler vote is very much up for grabs. Mitt Romney doesn’t poll well with them — perhaps Joseph Smith is a recent and unpleasant memory — but everyone else has a shot. Of the comparatively minuscule percentage who believe interracial marriage should be illegal — just 29 percent in Mississippi — Newt Gingrich is winning by a significant margin. But for voters who Don’t Believe In Evolution and Think President Obama is Muslim (probably they just hopped out of the time machine and glimpsed his name) it’s still anyone’s game. Santorum leads No Evolution For Us, Thanks, voters by only a single percentage point, less than the poll’s margin of error.
Sane, temperate remarks do little with this critical demographic. They remember back when exorcism was a routine medical procedure. Who needs health care? Leeches are still cheap. What’s the military doing in Afghanistan? That’s not even a country.
Next election cycle, their colleagues from the 18th century will be arriving and we’ll be banning ultrasounds — too much technology! — and just hiring Jonathan Edwards to deliver an hour-long speech to anyone seeking any kind of medical procedure at all. (“What are you doing outside the house, woman?” the speech will begin.)
Scoff if you like, but it explains a lot.
The one thing it doesn’t explain is the people on Twitter who believe the same thing.
Soon after the poll numbers hit the presses, “Obama is Muslim” turned into something of a trending topic on Twitter. Perhaps a broad and general indifference to fact is not the special prerogative of those 600-odd visitors from the past. “Obama is Muslim,” read one of the top tweets. “So? I like Nutella. Where’s my trend?” “How does your religion determine your potential to be a good leader and have good judgement Obama is Muslim... So What!”
Er. . .
Look, I’m all for tolerance. But there comes a point — preferably before you break out the Congratulations On Your Religion cake and related tweets — when you ought to at least, you know, Google it.
Unless those voters are Time Travelers too. If so, they’re oddly proficient at Twitter.