Obama To Blame For Hurricane Katrina Response, Say A Third Of Louisiana Republicans

According to a recent poll this week, a third of Louisiana Republicans blame President Obama for the botched federal response to Hurricane Katrina — despite the fact that the hurricane struck three years before Obama assumed the presidency. In fact, those who said the response was Obama’s fault outnumbered those who blamed President Bush, who was in fact president at the time.

The finding is just the most recent reminder that the public at large is often woefully, embarrassingly misinformed on topics of government and politics. It raises an infrequently-asked but very serious question: What are elected representatives supposed to do when the constituents they’re representing have no idea what’s going on around them? Here are some other examples of Americans blaming Obama for Bush's messes:

The Deficit

Americans concerned about deficit spending will be happy to know that since January 2010, the country has decreased its deficit by roughly 50 percent.

Good news, right? Well, not for a good chunk of the respondents in a recent Google poll, half of whom thought the deficit had actually increased over the last three years. The 40 percent who insisted that it had “increased a lot” are probably especially unhappy with their government’s cavalier, freewheeling spending habits.

Obamacare

Last year, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, and Mitt Romney, who pledged to repeal the law, lost the presidential election. That would seem to solidify that Obamacare is, in the words of John Boehner, “the law of the land,” yet a lot of people seem to have missed the memo.

A staggering 40 percent of respondents in a recent Kaiser poll didn’t know whether the law was still on the books, and almost 20 percent said that either the Supreme Court or congress had overturned it. These people must be awfully confused at the GOP’s recent attempts to defund Obamacare by threatening to shut down the federal government.

Obamacare and the Deficit

Okay, just for kicks, let’s combine those last two topics. Will Obamacare lower the deficit, or add to it? The American people — 53 percent of them, anyway — said the latter, in a recent Rasmussen poll.

The Congressional Budget Office, on the other hand, projects that the ACA will reduce the deficit (and has been projecting this for years).

Basic Facts About America

So, the above are complex policy questions. Surely, the average citizen has at least a rudimentary of American politics, right? Err, not quite. In 2011, Newsweek decided to find out if the average U.S. citizen was well-informed enough to pass the test that the country gives to immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship.

Thirty-eight percent of Americans failed the test, but that’s not even the most shocking result. 73 percent of respondents didn’t know why America fought the Cold War, and an entire 29 percent—that’s one in three people, folks—could not name the current Vice President of the United States.

While it’s true that the Vice President has few official duties, we’d think Joe Biden would be more recognizable to the American public, if only for his frequent appearances in other publications.

But At Least The UK Is Also, Um, Challenged

Things aren’t any better across the pond. A UK survey on a variety of subjects relating to public policy resulted in the headline “British public wrong about nearly everything, survey shows.” It wasn’t an exaggeration.

For example, respondents estimated teen pregnancy rates to be about 25 times higher than they actually are. They believed that about one-fourth of public benefits are fraudulently claimed, when in fact officials peg the actual amount at around .7 percent, and in the tradition of their U.S. counterparts, reliably overestimated the amount their government spends on foreign aid.

These are only the most recent examples, by the way. We haven’t even mentioned an older poll wherein voters blamed Obama for the bailouts enacted under Bush, or the 2010 survey wherein four percent of people thought Senator Harry Reid was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.