There are two schools of thought: (1) the average voter is dumb as dirt and (2) the voters can do a far superior job of governance than elected representatives. I subscribe to both views with caveats and urge your indulgence to explore this important subject and consider corrective actions.
First, the average American is ignorant as evaluated by surveys, and a substantial proportion is inclined to believe weird things. As example, right after the 9/11 attack and despite news coverage, young American adults could not locate Afghanistan (83%) or Iraq (87%) on a map, as determined by National Geographic Society survey; 95% of American college freshmen could not locate Vietnam and only 30% could point to New Jersey on a U.S. map. Four years ago a National Science Foundation survey found half of 1,500 people polled believed dinosaurs and humans coexisted on Earth and 45% thought that humans were created "pretty much in their present form within the last 10,000 years." News media polls show 80% of Americans think government is hiding knowledge about extraterrestrial life and 40% believe "supernatural intervention" will bring an end to human history. In a Middle Tennessee State University survey, only 50% could identify Kerry as the 2004 presidential candidate who wanted to "roll back tax cuts for the rich" and only 42% knew that Bush favored Social Security savings into personal retirement accounts. A consensus view by qualified people is that about 40% of the U.S. electorate is too ignorant and inept to be part of the democratic political process.