Slate took a poll of what it refers to as "prominent novelists" to see which presidential candidate they support. As Slate itself notes, the surprise isn't that these folks are overwhelmingly in favor of Kerry, but that any of them at all are planning to vote for Bush.
The thing that got to me was, even though I read as much as the next guy, I never heard of most of these "prominent novelists". So I looked some of them up on Amazon (on the helpful links provided in the Slate piece), and it turns out that a lot of them aren't so prominent, as least as I understand the term.
For example, there is one Gary Shteyngart, who has written one book, "The Russian Debutante's Handbook". Don't feel bad if you never heard of it, given that the Amazon sales rank of this book is--wait for it--down at 32,507. Apparently you can be "prominent" even if the only people buying your books are professors at Columbia.
Even some of the people I have actually heard of, like Amy Tan, don't sell that many books; her recent "The Bonesetter's Daughter" is 17,331. And some of this stuff I wouldn't read if I lost a bet, like George Saunders' "CivilWarLand" (sales rank 42,175). According to Publisher's Weekly:
In this debut collection of seven dystopian fantasies, some of which have appeared in the New Yorker and Harper's, America in the near future is a toxic wasteland overrun by vicious thugs and venal opportunists who prey on the weak and misshapen.
So, if a lot of people aren't reading this stuff, what makes these novelists "prominent". My guess is they are well reviewed by graduates of MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) programs at major universities.
Slate would be more honest if it described the authors as "admired among people who think they are too smart to read the same stuff as you do". BTW, I am happy to note that the only author on the list that I regularly read, Orson Scott Card, is a Democrat who plans to vote for Bush.