Burning Question

Are Republicans better informed than Democrats?

A Pew survey of basic politics and history paints Democrats in a pretty unflattering light. What happened to all those liberal elites?

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press recently posted the results of a survey on political knowledge, broken out by age, education level, gender, and perhaps most intriguingly, political affiliation. Not only did "Republicans fare substantially better than Democrats on several questions in the survey," Pew says, but that's "typically the case in surveys about political knowledge." (Take a short version of the quiz yourself.) Republicans answered 12.6 of 17 questions correctly, versus 11.4 for Democrats, and Democrats only outperformed the GOP respondents on one policy question. Looks like "we may need to retire the old trope about which is the Stupid Party," says Steven Hayward at Power Line. Is this convincing proof that Republicans know more than Democrats?

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The evidence is mounting for GOP smarts: We shouldn't be surprised, says Neil Munro at The Daily Caller. This just "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" Democrats.
"Republicans more open-minded, better informed than Democrats" 

Hold on. This is more about demographics than party: It's true that the "partisan differences in knowledge were typical of most Pew research polls," says Cassie Sollars in the McMinnville, Ore., News-Register. But a lot of that has to do with the makeup of each party. As Pew itself notes, "on average, Republicans are older and more affluent than either Democrats or independents," and those demographics tend to test better. Partisanship aside, though, it's discouraging that barely half of respondents knew FDR was a Democrat and Abraham Lincoln a Republican.
"Surprises in opinion polling"

Nobody comes out looking good here: At least most Americans know which party Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton belong to, says Wayne Ezell at The Florida Times-Union. But that's a relative highlight of our cellar-dwelling collective political IQ. Apparently, "many registered voters can't say which party is more conservative or liberal or which is more likely to raise your taxes." Those aren't trivial topics. They're major issues, and we're "only a few months before a presidential election." Sigh.
"America's political IQ falls short"

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