Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Pew quiz

The Pew Research Center is currently running a quiz on current events, asking 13 questions ranging from asking participants to identify Brazil on a map to who is the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Here are the results as of last night:

(click to enlarge)

A couple of observations:
  • In my post entitled A Theory of Government I argued that voters were rationally ignorant, and that in a democracy this is a good argument for keeping government as small as possible. Voter ignorance is certainly borne out in this quiz, with only 8 percent of all respondents answering all 13 questions correctly and only one question answered correctly by at least 80 percent of participants (83 percent of males correctly identified Brazil). Disturbingly, given that this is an online quiz, and participants are self-selected rather than representing a cross-section of society, these results almost certainly understate voter ignorance. 
  • The Democratic party performs best among those demographics that are most ignorant. Women, which went 55-43 for Democrats in the 2008 House elections (men went 50-47), underperformed males on literally every single question. Those with a high school or less education performed substantially worse than college graduates on every question, and Democrats won the former 55-44 for high schools grads and 64-35 for those without even a high school education (college grads, meanwhile, were split 49-49). Among the age groups, the 18-29 demographic performed the same or worse than the other two age groups on every question with the exception of the one on Brazil. Again, Democrats won this group 60-38, while the oldest demographic of 60+ was the least Democrat-friendly at 50-48. 

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