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August 28, 1964 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1964-08-28

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

inds Voters Ignorant f Politic

Converse adds. He says that the
votes most likely to create a swing
or surge in one direction or an-
other belong "very disproportion-
ately" to the less well-informed.
Immovable
"The top 15 per cent are typical-
ly the individuals who are hardest
to move, party-wise. They have
organized their world in rather
coherent, consistent terms, and
are not swayed by . . . short term
forces. The d y n a m i c voting
changes begin and end largely
within the 85 per cent who are
not well informed."
What information will move the
mass public?'
"If you analyze what it takes to
move a voter, you find that it
takes relatively simple bits of in-
formation-for example the infor-
mation that Kennedy was a Cath-
olic coupled with certain usually
simple opinions about Catholics
ands Catholicism," Prof. donverse
says.
"An-issue that involves complex-
ities or abstractions just sails over
the head of a large proportion of
the population."
Other issues which appear cap-
able of moving votes under appro-I

~al Issues
priate circumstances are corrup-
tion in government and govern-
ment spending and high taxes.
Current issues of prime political
importance include civil rights
questions having to do with school
integration and fair employment,
Pro.. Converse says. Some domes-
tic issues, such as job guarantees
and aid to education are of con-
siderable interest to voters, much
more so than are foreign policy
matters.
The SRC study revealed one do-
mestic issue that ranked even low-
er than foreign policy in public
interest-the question of whether
government should leave things
like electric power and housing for
private businessmen to handle.
In summary, Prof. Converse
writes, it appears that Americans
who do concern themselves, with
the issues are already committed
to one side or .the other and are
not to be moved normally. Those
who do move and create the land-
slides and upsets in our elections
are relatively uninformed and may
be less influenced by the issues
than by a candidate's physical ap-
pearance and manner.

El

Dilemma
In 1958, .Prof. Converse recalls,
SRC researchers wondered wheth-
er the public would blame the
then-current recession on the Re-
publican-controlled White House
or the Democrat-controlled Con-
gress. This "voter dilemma" had
been posed in the mass media for
weeks prior to the election.
When the voter study was made
at the time of the 1958 election,
"it turned out that only 43 per

PROF. PHILIP CONVERSE
cent of the American public even
was willing to guess which party
controlled Congress, despite the
fact that on guesswork alone one
had a 50-50 chance of being
right," Prof. Converse says.
"And furthermore, among this
43 per cent who dared to guess,
substantial n u m b e r s guessed
wrong. Perhaps 25-30 per cent of
the American public actually was
aware that the Democrats, and

great deal about politics," Prof.
Converse declares.
Conservative Mood?
It is common for people to in-
terpret the victory of a conserva-
tive candidate as meaning that the
public was in a conservative mood.
"This kind of interpretation is
in most instances highly dubious
for the reason that substantial
segments of the public would not
know a conservative or liberal if
they saw one," he declares.
Election results are not usually
determined by the most informed
15 per cent of the population, Prof.

Per Cent of U.S. in Schools
Sets 20th Straight Record

WASHINGTON - About 52.91
million students-more than a
quarter of the population of the
nation-will be enrolled in schools
or colleges this fall, according to
estimates of the United States Of-
fice of Education.
The total sets a new record for
the 20th consecutive year.
Figures include enrollments in
both public and non-public schools
and are 2.5 per cent higher than
the 51.6 million total of last fall.
The number of students in col-
leges is expected to reach 4.8 mil-
lion, up 6.7 per cent from the 4.51
million of last fall.

breaking enrollments will necessi-
tate hiring an additional 53,000
elementary and secondary school
teachers and 18,000 college teach-
ers in the 1964-65 academic year,
the education office estimates.
This would be an increase of
2.9 per cent over the -number^ of
elementary and secondary teachers
last fall, when the total was ap-
proximately . 1.8 million.'It would
mean a 5.1 per cent jupp over last
year's college teaching staffs of
352,000.
The number of high school grad-
uates in the 1963-64 school year
was a record-breaking 2.3 mil-
lion, up more than 300,000 from
the previous year.

Enrollments in secondary school
(grades 9 through 12) are expected
to total 12.7 million, an increase of
4.1 per cent from last fall's 12.2
million.
Elementary students (kindergar-
ten through 8) may number 35.4
million, 1.4 per cent more than
the 34.9 million of last fall.
Money spent for education rose
8.7 per cent to an estimated $33.7
billion during the school year
1963-64 in contrast with $31 billion
in 1962-63. Increased enrollments
this fall will presumably be ac-
companied by still greater expen-
ditures.
ducational expenditures in
19 3-64 amounted to 5.8 per cent
of the nation's gross national
product compared with 3.1 per
cent in 1929-30.
Excluding loans and payments
for services, the federal govern-
ment contributed an estimated $2.4
billion for educational purposes
during the 1963-64 fiscal year
which closely corresponds with the
1963-64 academic year. This was
20 per cent more than the $2 bil-
lion for fiscal year 1962-63.
Unless teacher loads are sub-
stantially increased, the record-

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