Republicans Know More Than Democrats, Says Study


Rational ignorance?

At least GOPers do when it comes to politics, according to survey results released earlier this month by the Pew Research Center. As the report notes:

Republicans fare substantially better than Democrats on several questions in the survey, as is typically the case in surveys about political knowledge. The largest gaps are in awareness of which party is more supportive of reducing the size and scope of the federal government (30 points) and which party is more conservative (28 points).

Republicans also are 21 percentage points more likely than Democrats to know that the GOP is more supportive of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

There is only one policy question – which party is more supportive of cutting defense spending – on which Democrats are more knowledgeable than Republicans. Two-thirds of Democrats (67%) identify the Democratic Party as being more supportive of reducing the size of the defense budget, compared with 59% of Republicans.

On that last question, could it be that Republican voters are hoping that GOP pols will come around to seeing the wisdom of cutting our bloated defense budget? Here are the results of the survey questions by partisan affiliation:

Many people apparently have better things to do than to worry about politics

Delving further into the report, the survey reports that men do better on every question than do women. The Daily Caller also reports:

The Pew survey adds to a wave of surveys and studies showing that GOP-sympathizers are better informed, more intellectually consistent, more open-minded, more empathetic and more receptive to criticism than their fellow Americans who support the Democratic Party.

Hmmm. Some of my best friends identify GOP, and at least some of them are open-minded and empathetic, but it would have been helpful if the DC had identified a few of the reports in the purported "wave" showing this to be so. In any case, go here to take the partisan quiz for yourself. 

NEXT: Sen. Kent Conrad, Senate Dems Punt on Producing Budget Because GOP is Obstructionist, Needs Document to Vote On

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  1. It’s too bad a majority of the people even know who John Boehner is.

    1. Republicans are smarter than Democrats for not remembering who John Boehner is.

  2. I suspect that the “open-minded and empathetic” surveys that they’re referring to are the Pew Internet Survey showing that liberals are far more likely to have unfriended or blocked people on social networking sites for expressing contrary views, combined with the Haidt research that was in a recent Reason story indicating that liberals were worse than conservatives and moderates and libertarians at understanding how people of different political backgrounds thought (with the “answer this question how an X would” part of the research.)

    1. Inclusive means excluding anyone who disagrees with you.
      Tolerant means not tolerating anyone who disagrees with you.
      Equality means you are superior to anyone who disagrees with you.


      Liberals are all about being inclusive and tolerant while showing their love for equality.

      1. But shrike and Tony say it’s the conservatives who are the big, stupid dummy-heads. Those two are always right about everything.

        1. shrike and Tony can go fuck themselves.

  3. I also suspect strongly that in this survey that moderate and conservative Democrats did worse than liberals, considering other surveys.

    Also note that it should really be written as “only one policy question on which Democrats are significantly more knowledgeable than Republicans,” as can be seen by the immigration question above.

  4. In what pink-sky, unicorn-farming, all-the-women-look-like-jessica-alba world are Republicans at all supportive of shrinking government?

    When they’re in charge Federal expenditures keep going up!

    It’s like telling people that Stalin is more supportive of the right to life than Hitler(because umm like his genocidal campaign – you know – has a death rate totally at 25% the deaths per hour than Hitler’s).

    Feynman was right – fucking polls are useless.

    This question of trying to figure out whether a book is good or bad by looking at it carefully or by taking the reports of a lot of people who looked at it carelessly is like this famous old problem: Nobody was permitted to see the Emperor of China, and the question was, What is the length of the Emperor of China’s nose? To find out, you go all over the country asking people what they think the length of the Emperor of China’s nose is, and you average it. And that would be very “accurate” because you averaged so many people. But it’s no way to find anything out; when you have a very wide range of people who contribute without looking carefully at it, you don’t improve your knowledge of the situation by averaging.

    1. In what pink-sky, unicorn-farming, all-the-women-look-like-jessica-alba world are Republicans at all supportive of shrinking government?

      “Get your government hands of my Medicare!”

        1. To be fair… name every small-government Democrat. Shouldn’t be a long list.

          1. Democrats openly want more government.
            Republican politicians give lip service to smaller government, but in reality they’re just big government liberals who appeal to anti-abortion voters.

            1. Just like Democratic politicians give lip service to civil liberties and peace, but in reality they’re just warmongers who appeal to voters who want free contraceptives and abortions.

              1. And being gay, Cato. Those three freedoms are all we’d have left under a Team Blue dictatorship.

      1. “Get your government hands of my Medicare!”

        You cannot blame people for believing that Medicare was a contractual right. That’s how it was sold.

        1. Government cannot protect both the right to private property and the right to the property of others.

          The latter contradicts the former.

        2. Ya, I can blame stupid people for being stupid. And I do.

        3. What if the government had promised to give people flying unicorns as a part of Medicare? Could you blame people then?

      2. The largest gaps are in awareness of which party is more supportive of reducing the size and scope of the federal government (30 points)

        Unless the poll had “none of the above” as a possible answer for each of the questions, the poll’s results are worthless.

  5. You have to be smarter to avoid paying taxes versus sitting around waiting for more government hand-outs.

  6. The largest gaps are in awareness of which party is more supportive of reducing the size and scope of the federal government

    Ima go with “neither.”

  7. 1. It is insane that anyone doesn’t know the answers to all of these questions.
    2. This poll is stupid.

    1. Agreed. How could anyone possibly answer that the Democratic party is “more conservative on most issues”? There’s something wrong with this poll. Could someone have been trolling it?

      1. I guess my main issue is that anyone who can’t correctly answer that question shouldn’t even be able to identify themselves as a Democratc…

        Or maybe they’re all supercentagenarians who remember a different Democrat party…

    2. Dammit Spoonman. The more I look at this “quiz” the more stupid it is.

      The 95% confidence intervals are 7.5% for Republicans and 6.5% for Democrats. That’s huge, especially when comparing the two groups to each other.

      I don’t think you can draw any conclusions from such a poorly designed poll.

  8. It really does not matter who is smarter, what really matters is whether being clever somehow should give you the right to decide how somebody else should live.

    And no I am not saying I want to be ruled by a dumb man either, but history is full of supposed intellectual giants that did as much damage than the idiots of history.

    1. Do you mean… Top. Men?

      1. No, TOP Top Men. That’s two Tops to the one Top that state government has.

    2. No matter how smart a ruler is, he’s never smart enough to realize that he will never be smart enough to rule well.

  9. Party more supportive of…
    Empty platitudes about reducing the size of federal gov’t


  10. Also note that Reason’s vaunted Independents are the most clueless of all groups.

    1. Independents are just in it for the lulz.

      1. Or they have better things to think about.

  11. Only a slight majority of Democrats realize FDR was a Democrat. Fascinating.

    And look, even if you don’t think Republicans are really committed to shrinking government, you know what the more-or-less correct answer is. Ron Paul alone outnumbers Democrats committed to shrinking the federal government. But even giving a freebie on that — which should mostly go to independents — damn.

    1. The question is which party, Ron Paul is not the Republican Party.

      1. So <5% of Republicans are committed to shrinking the federal government and 0% of Democrats are.

        There’s still not really a point to be made here, even if the question is false and it turns out “Democrats” is the correct answer. The survey still demonstrates the state of literacy of current politics in the US.

      2. That would be news to Ron Paul!

    2. Yeah, fascinating. The quiz seems to evaluate reading comprehension as much as anything else.

  12. In any case, go here to take the partisan quiz for yourself.

    This quiz is as bad as that risk-taking one from a couple weeks ago.

    1. Wow that was insipid. I intentiknally answered 1 wrongly to see where it would put me. 1/13 misses is better than 81% of the survey respondents.

      1. I noticed that the percentages of those who answered 8 or fewer coorect (those who got

        1. &lt; = <

          Otherwise Reason’s genius filtering system breaks.

        2. What I was trying to point out before was that adding up the percentages results in ~51 percent of people failed the test.

          Obviously I failed to make sure the comment posted before running off, and reason’s filtering system fails all around.

  13. At least GOPers do [know more than Democrats] when it comes to politics, according to survey results released earlier this month by the Pew Research Center.

    In other words they know more than Democrats on things that really do not matter.

    Because GOPers and Dems are equally clueless and woefully unaware of basic economics. You can have GOPers defending all sorts of protectionist schemes, wealth transfers and wasteful military spending while your regular off-the-shelf Dem defends price controls, wealth transfers and central planning.

  14. How the heck do 59% of republicans think that their party supports defense cuts? Also, easiest quiz ever, I don’t want to know the 4% of people who missed all of them.

    1. No, 41% of republicans got it wrong. Still pretty bad though

    2. If you were guessing, your odds of missing all 13 questions would be about 0.01%. In other words, at least 4% of the respondants were either trolling the quiz or actually knew the answer to all 13 questions but somehow got confused about how to properly answer the question.

      This was a poorly designed “quiz” and it’s results are highly suspect. Frankly, it tells us more about the pollsters themselves than the general population.

    3. LOL I agree with you 100% that so called test was beyond easy!! But it’s a dumb quiz because the questions start off as a lie!!! republicans want reduced government ????? SINCE WHEN!!!

  15. Jeepers creepers, reason, even little ol’ me has an iStockPhoto subscription!

  16. You got 13 questions correct, along with 8% of the public


    1. Indeed.

      Betcha that 8% is the segment of the public that can define “pathetic”.

  17. One suspects only about 5% of the populace would be allowed to vote if a simple test were administered upon entrance to a polling place. And I’m an optimist!

    1. That depends. Does the test screen out people who are too smart or who are too stupid?

      1. No, the test would be “do you have a union card?”

  18. Ronald Bailey, I’m calling you out on this one. For various reasons mentioned above I posit that this poll has absolutely no value. Why did you waste my time with this?

    I guess it wasn’t a total waste, actually. It will be awhile before I trust anything else that comes out of Pew…

  19. Republicans smarter than democrats?? that’s funny!! First off that test is bullshit, one question asked do republicans believe in reducing the government!! hell no republicans politicians tell they’re ignorant sheep that lie but as soon as a republicans president gets in office he runs up billions of dollars in debt!! AH LA ronald regan, AH LA george bush jr. republicans smarter?!! Any party that supports idiots like sarah palin, michele bachmann, mitt rommey has NO credibility AT ALL!!!

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