Neal Starkman, who lives in Seattle*, is at a loss to explain President Bush’s popularity.

Granted, there are certain subsections of the American polity that have substantially benefited from this presidency. Millionaires and charismatic Christians have accrued either material or spiritual fortification from Bush’s administration. But surely these two groups are a small minority of the population. What, then, can account for so many people being so supportive of the president?

The answer, I’m afraid, is the factor that dare not speak its name. It’s the factor that no one talks about. The pollsters don’t ask it, the media don’t report it, the voters don’t discuss it.

I, however, will blare out its name so that at last people can address the issue and perhaps adopt strategies to overcome it.

It’s the “Stupid factor,” the S factor: Some people — sometimes through no fault of their own — are just not very bright.

Well, I certainly wouldn’t dispute that fact. Indeed, at least one of them lives in Seattle.

But this seems an implausible rationale to explain why somewhere between 51 and 63 percent of the population approves of President Bush’s job performance. Even if we define “stupid” in such a way as to encompass the majority of the population–and I’ve done that myself on occasion–it’s worth noting that President Bush’s approval numbers have been as high as 91%.

Further, I would note that Al Gore got a larger plurality of the popular vote (or so I’ve heard) in 2000 and Bill Clinton got a plurality in both 1992 and 1996 — all in races with three significant candidates. So, regardless of the validity of the S Factor, I’m not sure what predictive value it has.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

*This seems to be his claim to fame, as that’s all the information provided in the byline.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Paul says:

    That’s odd…

    Most whiny liberals don’t call the population stupid until after they lose the election.

    Guess he wanted to avoid the rush.

  2. John Lemon says:

    This is actually interesting news in that there is a group of the population who can automatically change their IQs simply by changing their mind on who to vote for. Cool.

    I shall vote for Dennis Kucinich.

    There, I feel like and intellectual giant already.

  3. JW says:

    I second Paul’s statement. The phenomenon isn’t exactly new–liberals decrying the stupidity of the populace. I do think as many people as possible need to send a letter to the editor at the Seattle PI asking what on earth they were thinking publishing this piece of tripe. Does this guy live in an echo chamber?

    (stikes forehead in Homer Simpson fashion) Oh, I forgot–he’s from Seattle. . . .