Politics

Surveys: Republicans more open-minded, better informed than Democrats

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Yet another new survey shows that Republican supporters know more about politics and political history than Democrats.

On eight of 13 questions about politics, Republicans outscored Democrats by an average of 18 percentage points, according to a new Pew survey titled “Partisan Differences in Knowledge.”

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.

“Republicans fare substantially better than Democrats on several questions in the survey, as is typically the case in surveys about political knowledge,” said the study, which noted that Democrats outscored Republicans on five questions by an average of 4.6 percent.

The widest partisan gap in the survey came in at 30 points when only 46 percent of Democrats — but 76 percent of Republicans —- correctly described the GOP as “the party generally more supportive of reducing the size of federal government.”

The widest difference that favored Democrats was only 8 percent, when 59 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats recognized the liberal party as “more [supportive] of reducing the defense budget.”

The survey quizzed 1,000 people, including 239 Republicans and 334 Democrats.

However, Pew’s data suggests that the Democrats’ low average rating likely is a consequence of its bipolar political coalition, which combines well-credentialed post-graduate progressives who score well in quizzes with a much larger number of poorly educated supporters, who score badly.

For example, the survey reported that 90 percent of college grads recognized the GOP as the party most supportive of cutting the federal government. But that number fell to 54 percent of people with a high-school education or less.

In contrast, the Republican party coalition is more consistent, and has few poorly educated people and fewer post-graduates.

Pew’s new study echoes the results of many other reports and studies that show GOP supporters are better educated, more empathetic and more open to criticism than Democrats.

A March 12 Pew study showed that Democrats are far more likely that conservatives to disconnect from people who disagree with them.

“In all, 28% of liberals have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on SNS [social networking sites] because of one of these reasons, compared with 16% of conservatives and 14% of moderates,” said the report, tiled “Social networking sites and politics.”

The report also noted that 11 percent of liberals, but only 4 percent of conservatives, deleted friends from their social networks after disagreeing with their politics.

A March Washington Post poll showed that Democrats were more willing to change their views about a subject to make their team look good. For example, in 2006, 73 percent of Democrats said the GOP-controlled White House could lower gas prices, but that number fell by more than half to 33 percent in 2012 once a Democrat was in the White House.

In contrast, the opinions of GOP supporters were more consistent. Their collective opinion shifted by only a third, according to the data. In 2006, 47 percent in believed the White House could influence gas prices. By 2012, that number had risen to 65 percent up 17 points compared to the Democrats’ 40 point shift.