76% Of U.S. Voters Don’t Know Congress Passed A Huge Infrastructure Bill

from the finger-on-the-pulse-of-the-nation dept

You might recall that John Oliver bit years ago about how Americans fall asleep when they hear the word “infrastructure.” We’ll obsess for hours over Elon Musk showmanship, or the innovative potential of NFTs, but the U.S. press in particular falls into a lazy stupor any time actual, essential infrastructure is mentioned. It’s a problem for a species facing an historic climate destabilization that heavily targets… infrastructure.

Anyway, here’s the bit if you missed it:

When you actually ask U.S. consumers if infrastructure is important, a huge majority of them will concede that it is. But despite the U.S. Congress passing the massive Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act late last year, an alarming number of Americans don’t actually know it even exists.

According to a recent Democratic research memo and survey, an amazing 76 percent of U.S. likely voters don’t know the infrastructure bill even passed:

Quite simply, voters do not know the bill was passed. While voters express high levels of support for the deal once they hear about it, only 24% of voters think the bill is law. Meanwhile, a plurality (37%) says they “don’t know” the status of the bill, 30% say “it is still being worked on in Congress but isn’t law yet,” and 9% believe it is not being worked on in Congress and will not be passed.

There are countless reasons for this. One being, of course, that there’s a lot going on. Another being that we’ve based truth and news on a massive, ad-driven infotainment system that prioritizes gibberish and controversy over substance. It’s kind of hard to get the public interested in unsexy but important things when we’re flooding their brains with crypto-hype and Kardashian dance offs.

But Democratic messaging, as the link above hints at, also sucks. The bill includes a massive $65 billion on broadband. Instead of exploiting a bipartisan hatred of US cable monopolies to excite voters, the DNC issued a lot of vague, nebulous, snooze-inducing rhetoric about “bridging the digital divide,” because, like the GOP, the party has a weird aversion to acknowledging that telecom monopolies exist and are harmful.

This focus on how the bill would expand broadband access primarily to folks who don’t have it (as opposed to boosting competition and improving broadband for everybody) left folks with the belief that the bill was largely about helping somebody else, not them:

There is a key distinction between providing access to clean water and internet and providing improvements to existing services. Democrats tend to focus on providing access to basic services, and this law does great work in those areas. But just as most Americans had health insurance when we debated the ACA, most Americans have access to drinkable water and decent internet and perceive conversations about access to be directed to someone else. 

Some of this goes well beyond messaging. Making it clear that infrastructure money could be used to challenge widely disliked companies like Comcast and AT&T would not only offend politically powerful campaign contributors, it would anger companies we’ve effectively bone grafted to both the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement apparatus, and you simply can’t have that.

As a result you got this timid messaging about the broadband digital divide that made it sound like this money was all being thrown at somebody else, far away and well around the next bend.

The survey showcases that there’s a ton of stuff in the infrastructure bill that the public widely approves of (better drinking water, less potholes, jobs, economic improvements), that were similarly poorly messaged. And there’s ample opportunity to attack politicians that generally oppose all of this stuff (then, in some cases, turn around and take credit for it on a town by town level) that aren’t being taken advantage of.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “76% Of U.S. Voters Don’t Know Congress Passed A Huge Infrastructure Bill”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Candescence (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not that she will be re-elected. She’s so toxic that she got censured by the Arizona Democrats and is gonna get primaried into political oblivion, the Democrats want her gone by any means necessary come 2024 for bullshitting her way into becoming a Democratic senator and operating completely in bad faith afterwards. Everyone hates her, even Manchin negotiated the new reconciliation bill without her input because he knows she doesn’t act in good faith.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

I’m not prepared to call the 2024 election in 2022, but yeah, I wouldn’t give her very good odds. She hasn’t just alienated voters, she’s alienated the kind of activists who worked their asses off volunteering for her in 2018 and did the lion’s share of the work that got her elected.

I will quibble with that “bullshitting her way into becoming a Democratic senator and operating completely in bad faith afterwards” line. Speaking as someone who was represented by Sinema for three terms in the House? She hasn’t changed. This bad-faith bullshit isn’t something that suddenly started overnight in January 2019 or January 2021; she’s always been like this. It’s just that until she became an important vote in the Senate, most people weren’t paying close enough attention to notice.

Hell, the first time I ever called Sinema’s office asking for her to support $thing, and got a form letter back assuring me that she supported $thing, and then she never fucking voted in support of $thing, she was still in the House and $thing was net neutrality. She’s the same as she ever was.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

One of the things I would do if I was Benevolent Dictator for a Day is ban the naming of legislative bills. No more PATRIOT Acts or SAFE Acts or any of that nonsense, where the naming of the bill serves no purpose other than to make it hard for the opposition to vote against it because what politician wants to be on record voting against the “Mom and Puppies and Apple Pie Act of 2022” even if the substance of the bill itself has nothing to do with any of those things?

Nope, it’d be bill numbers only if I had my way.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

They have been to far and to long removed from reality.

Its not shocking they can’t manage to message properly, even as the GQP was driving us off the cliff they kept talking about how decorum would magically return and fix it.

Members of Congress flat out lying & no one in Congress dares call them out about it, because thats not becoming… but allowing MGT and the GED Genius to hoot like monkies at the president is okay.

An eye doctor is allowed to attack an actual scientist & doctor trying to score aha points.

They didn’t even point out the asshole who claims Jan 6 was just like a regular tourist visit.

The messaging is fscked up because they seem to be lost & wandering around in a fog.

We have people who can’t drink their water if they like living.
We have bridges that are going to give way and kill people.
We have roads costing us billions in repairs.

And they can’t even manage to mention this passed, this will fix these things, and that the goal is improving the nation for everyone.

Instead we get more milk toast wishy washy bullshit because our elected leaders couldn’t lead us out of the desert with god leading the way and parting the red sea.

There are serious things that are lingering on the table, the nation is still suffering, and nothing is getting done except hand wringing.

Just once it would be really cool for someone in Congress to actually take one of these assholes who claims gay marriage will cause bestiality and pedophilia to be legal and embarrass them publicly for this nonsense.

We are owed truth & facts, not bullshit & lies to stoke fear in a base who can’t manage to figure out no drag queen has ever been arrested for molesting kids but there were 20 “pastors” in the last 2 weeks who were… but they keep showing to terrorize the kids they claim to want to protect with their guns and screaming.

Praying to god isn’t gonna keep the levees from failing, start pushing back against the theocracy & show people you’ve sent the money.

Joel Coehoorn says:


The $65 billion for broadband in the bill is the reason the FTC wants to redefine broadband to go all the way to 100Mbps.

Redefining broadband will allow them to give much of the money to telecoms to update areas that are already well-served, instead of actually doing the hard and needful work of finding the gaps and really getting service available to those who can’t already get it or afford it.

Now, in fairness, the current definition is not adequate, thanks in large part to the pandemic-fueled work-from-home revolution. But it’s mainly the upstream speeds that need addressed. In my experience running the campus network for a small college, 40Mbps down/15Mbps up is enough pretty much any family.

anon says:

and for other purposes.

Come on Karl. You know the game better than this. They did not pass an infrastructure bill. They did not debate any infrastructure bills either. Because first line of this bill (and nearly all others) ends with the phrase “, and for other purposes.” it means that every bill /can be/ an infrastructure bill but also that almost no bill /can only be/ an infrastructure bill. If Rep. DeLauro, to pull a random name out of my hat, wanted a bill to be an infrastructure bill, its first sentence would not end with “, and for other purposes” but would likely end with “as defined by United States code xxxxxx” where xxxxxx is the section of the law that defines infrastructure. What, in this example, Rep. DeLauro has introduced (and only 1/435th of the blame would lie on her) is an anything-goes bill. It might contain a bit about infratructure, but can contain anything the author wants to include and any unrelated amendment may be proposed by any of the other 434 members of the House. If they were honest, and I bet you can count the number of honest members of the House on one hand, they would never submit bills with that, or any similar modifier.

Pissed off* in Georgia

  • but not yet pissed of to start a second revolution
btr1701 (profile) says:

Definition of 'Infrastructure'

When you actually ask U.S. consumers if infrastructure is
important, a huge majority of them will concede that it is.

Sure, but that huge majority also thinks the word ‘infrastructure’ carries the commonly-accepted definition that has been used for a century or more– things like roads and bridges and water/electrical systems. Not what the Democrats have redefined it as– “basically anything we want to spend money on”, like child care, illegal alien relocation (not deportation, mind you, relocation), and programs to root out ‘systemic racism’.

None of that is ‘infrastructure’, but it was all dumped into the infrastructure bill with a not insignificant number of Democrat politicians saying with a straight face that it is infrastructure.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...