A few weeks ago, while I was playing in the Capitol Poker League
, a person I was playing against brought up politics. We started talking about the Bush administration, evolving into state politics, transportation issues, until finally we started talking about the '08 Presidential nomination.
We started naming off candidates. (At this point, we have been eliminated from the tournament and are playing in a side game.) To make a long story longer, I end up naming a few more candidates on each side. I tell him that I'm a freak of nature on American politics and that "80% of America wouldn't know four candidates for President". I tell him that "because of the bastardization of society that cares more about sports scores and celebrity gossip than they do about politics", people don't have time for real world issues. He said that was "impossible" and put the number down to 40%.
At that point, we decide to make an informal survey of the members of the league on their knowledge of the '08 candidates (probably an explanation on why my poker skills have degraded). We would ask the tables the question to name four candidates regardless of party affiliation. If someone knew the answer, they would have to whisper who they knew to us so it wouldn't taint the other participants. We had our local stats professor tally the results. A beer would go to the winner. With our rules in hand, we proceeded with the survey.
We came across 43 people in our league that wanted to participate. Of those, 16 knew four Presidential candidates (37 percent). The most common answers were John McCain, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama. One guy started his answer with Joe Biden and I told him to stop right there. If he knew Biden, I'm giving him the other three. Most people knew one or two, Hillary and Obama were the names that often came up, but we did not survey for name recognition.
I was surprised at the results but maybe I shouldn't be considering we are living basically in a college town near DC. I would have loved to have asked age and education but I didn't have the dexterity that night to do it. (Maybe the couple of beers I had that night had something to do with it.) Both of us were left unsatisfied with the results in so much that neither of us won and neither received the beer that would come with winning. It was, though, an interesting look into the average American playing poker at a bar.