To Mark Blumenthal and Emily Swanson, who recreate the classic "1975 Public Affairs Act" survey and find -- no surprise -- that lots of people are very willing to share their opinions about a fictional law when they get asked, and that they'll even fall into familiar partisan reactions if properly prompted about fictional political controversies.
It's a great item, and lots of fun.
I'll just add one important thing: those of us who are constantly harping on this stuff are not saying that voters are stupid. I don't believe that voters are stupid! Well, I suppose some of them, but...no, really, I don't. It's all just about two things: knowing that most people don't pay a whole lot of attention to politics, and knowing that we shouldn't take polling results at face value -- especially when it concerns things that most people don't may much attention to.
Look: when people's immediate interests are affected and they get engaged in politics, they often are quite sensible about it. But for most of us, most of the time, that's not the case.
Now, I think a lot of people who ignore politics, a lot of people who cynically dismiss the possibility of effective political action, a lot of people who think that only big shots can make any difference...I think they would find not only that individuals can make a difference, but that they would really find a sense of meaning and fulfillment if they got involved (what the American founders called "public happiness"). And I'm with Machievelli, Arendt, and others, including in my view Madison, in believing that one of the real reasons to have a republic is to allow access to that sense to every single citizen.
But I'm also willing to accept the facts, which is that most people don't do that. And that's fine, too. Fortunately, it turns out that democracy works well enough even if most citizens do little more than vote and use shortcuts such as party even to do that. And there's nothing insulting or dismissive in accepting that they do that. Nor is there anything insulting or dismissive in realizing that people give survey answers which shouldn't be taken at face value because they barely pay attention to politics.
At any rate: great catch!