In the U.S., is there evidence to suggest that the average voter is better informed than in the past?

I ask because, while there may be more information available, that not necessarily translate in more knowledge.

In fact, it is a fact that the more we are exposed to different ideas, the more it is likely that our views will be more confused.

Is not that knowledge derives most from listening to family and friends discussing their perspective on political and social issues rather than from mass media?

As an instance, how people are well informed about the fact that mutual vetoes in the separation of powers balances system ensures that politicians work for their constituent, if this fact is still a debated issue trough mass media, magazine, etc.

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    That a specific item of knowledge may or may not be more prevalent does not mean that as a whole the population is not better informed. I suspect more people(as a percent) knew how to sow a field in 1800 than do today. That does not mean that they were more knowledgeable as a whole. And just because their views do not agree with the ones you believe correct does not mean that you are more knowledgable – SoylentGray Sep 12 '13 at 16:57

One has to separate out two elements of this - first is 'voter' and second is the difference between 'knowledge' and 'interest'.

American citizens have all kinds of information shoved in their face, but only about a third of them vote. Plenty of Americans are registered to vote, but that doesn't mean they actually show up at the polls. So your question limits the inquiry to those that actually vote.

Plenty of American voters follow a herd instinct - they grew up in some rural county and vote social conservative, or they grew up in some urban manufacturing center and vote 'liberal'. They may know all kinds of stuff, but that may or may not matter on voting day.

'Informed' voting requires several things: basic math skills, economic literacy, some sense of the lessons of history, and some actual understanding of their candidates. The math is need to 'balance the checkbook', so to speak - a lot of people simply cannot grasp what $17 trillion in national debt means. Economic literacy is similar - lots of people think voting for a particular candidate leads to a 'free lunch'. This is not limited to 'liberals' by any means - people that harp on immigration and border security don't make the connection between immigrant farm workers and the price of food. Neocons were all into spreading democracy in the Middle East, when that blew up spectacularly the US retreated into it's traditional isolationist mindset. Now we may be back in 1940, when the US didn't want to get involved in European wars.

Time and time again people return to office people that they wouldn't re-elect if they knew their actual views - for a long time people in conservative rural districts would send 'liberal' congresspersons to represent them. For various reasons Southerners would send Democrats to Congress, even though the political doctrines of these 'Democrats' were Republican in everything but name. This was a vestige of the Civil War and the Republican Lincoln administration - people have forgotten that now.

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    Not upvoting since your third paragraph needs some backing up (which DOES exist in form of studies - see some past 538 articles) – user4012 Sep 16 '13 at 9:47

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