The Undecided Decide: By BECKY O'MALLEY

Tuesday August 31, 2004

Louis Menand has a critical essay in the latest New Yorker which vamps off a thesis in a 1964 book by Philip Converse, The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics: Only about 10 percent of the public has what might be called a political belief system. Menand reports Converse’s interpretation of surveys of the 1956 electorate as showing that voters are perfectly capable of holding conflicting opinions simultaneously, for example wanting both lower taxes and more government programs. Such studies of voter behavior are increasingly rehashed as contemporary polls seem to show the country poised on a knife edge between presidential candidates. Very few voters are still undecided, so how this few will make up their minds is consuming a lot of ink these days. One of our correspondents has suggested that people who haven’t made up their minds yet should be disqualified, presumably as too dumb to vote, and that’s an appealing idea, but it won’t happen. Pundits continue to speculate on what will change the hearts and minds of the remaining voters. -more-

Berkeley’s Building Boomers Move In: By BECKY O'MALLEY

Friday August 27, 2004

Readers of metro dailies this week are learning what Daily Planet readers have known for more than a year. Berkeley has dramatically overbuilt its supply of luxury student housing. Chirpily cheery stories report what is, of course, good news for luxury students: prices have dropped for units boasting T1 Internet connections and free satellite TV, for students who like the in-your-face togetherness and the slick synthetic surfaces of the new units downtown, which are a lot like dormitories, but much fancier. The UC housing office reports that two-bedroom apartments now can be found for about $1,500 a month, which undoubtedly seems like a bargain to students from L.A, though the luxury buildings are asking more like $2,000. -more-

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