WASHINGTON—According to a Rasmussen poll released Thursday, nearly all American voters share a deeply held fear of botching another election in 2012, with the majority admitting that selecting candidates suitable for public office is something they are just not very good at.
"When I think about how bad things are already, I can't help but worry that it's going to get infinitely worse once we step into the voting booth next November," said Gavin Daniels, 34, of Columbus, OH, one of 1,200 registered voters who participated in the survey. "This country has repeatedly screwed itself over at the ballot box, and I have this really sickening, unshakable feeling we're going to do it again next year. That's just sort of what we do."
"I keep asking myself, 'Am I going to completely fuck things up by dropping the ball on my vote for president and sending someone patently corrupt or incompetent to Congress?" he continued. "And the answer for me and millions of other American voters is yeah, probably. God knows we do almost every time."
According to the poll, 9 out of 10 likely voters said they did not trust themselves to make choices that were in the nation's best interests, three-quarters said Election Day panic would likely cause them to base their votes entirely on hearsay, and 93 percent admitted that when it came to state and local races they would probably only recognize the names of candidates who had been featured prominently in attack ads.
In addition, almost all respondents said they feared being unable to summon the self-discipline required to read any proposition or ballot initiative running longer than 150 words.
The poll also suggested that despite a presidential campaign season that now lasts a full year and a half, American voters feel they still fail to acquire useful information about the relative merits of a candidate, acknowledging that on the whole, they cannot make the sound decisions required of a functioning electorate in a representative democracy.
"In the end, I just know I'm going to hear one catchy sound bite and make a terrible, emotionally driven decision that's going to screw us over for another two, four, or six years," said Kyla Simpson of Denver, a working mother of three who confirmed she routinely elects officials whose actions damage the health, safety, and economic security of her family. "I always wind up going with my gut instinct and making an impulsive choice that sends everything straight to hell."
"Goddammit, why do I keep doing that?" she added.
Voters indicated their nerves typically begin to fray early in the campaign cycle, when they make the mistake of tuning out any reasonable opinion uttered by a non-telegenic or poorly funded candidate. Their anxiety is then compounded, they said, after they bungle things further with responses to opinion polls that winnow the contenders down to an unsatisfactory few.
Following primaries and the selection of a nominee frighteningly committed to defending every last inch of party orthodoxy, nervousness reaches a fever pitch and stays there until the general election, at which time, voters confirmed, they tend to "royally fuck things up beyond any shred of hope whatsoever."
While conceding the nation occasionally gets an election right, historians point out the successes have been outweighed by the spectacular failures, which include Richard Nixon's re-election, the nomination of Michael Dukakis, Winfield Scott's crushing 1852 loss to Franklin Pierce amidst disaffection with the Whig Party, every political contest held in 2004, and the 47-year Senate career of Strom Thurmond.
"If there's any way at all way to shit the bed on this one, you can bet Americans will find it," said Mike Hodgson, 54, of Gainesville, FL. "Even if we see the blatantly manipulative campaign tricks and fear-mongering buzzwords for what they really are, they're still the only things we'll pay attention to."
"Frankly, it's going to come down to me taking a complete stab in the dark on this one," he added. "Yep, here I go again."
AT&T, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs issued statements Tuesday confirming they are not among those nervous about the first presidential election since the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling.