Blast from the Past

Young Voters Still Read MSN, Yahoo

Who's deciding who gets the blame for a government shutdown? People who don't know how to change their default internet browser.

The next time somebody tells you that the American people "think" this or "oppose" that, you might want to ponder the following story:

A friend who works in public opinion research drew my attention to a survey of young voters recently conducted for the college Republicans. The survey found that 44 percent of young voters cited Yahoo as a regular news source and 30 percent cited MSN.

You may wonder: MSN? Is that still in business? And Yahoo? Really? Why?

The answer is that something like half the country continues to use some version of Internet Explorer. Many of these people open up to whatever Microsoft has set for them as their home page, and they gather their news from whatever happens to show up there. They're probably swing voters too.

The most important question in American politics in the next month will be: who gets the blame for a government shut down - or, even more terrifying, an outright default. That question will likely be settled by people who do not know how to change the default settings on an Internet browser.