With Election Day in Oregon only two weeks away, how aware are voters about platforms of the two major political parties?
One letter writer to The Oregonian humorously suggested that “Democrats always seem to rail primarily about what they have seen Republicans do in the recent past, while Republicans always seem to rant primarily what they imagine Democrats will do in the near future.”
That’s an amusing bit of analysis but, according to the latest “The News IQ Quiz” by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, not the right answer to the question: “What [does] the public know about political parties?”
Before reading the rest of this blog, take the quiz and see where you rank in comparison to about 1,000 other Americans, Click to take the quiz.
What was your score? Thirteen questions are asked and a majority of those surveyed could correctly answer at least 10. As far as what they know, American’s are more aware of the positions of party leaders than they are of the positions advocated by Republican or Democratic parties, according to the survey.
“Most Americans can correctly identify the relative positions of the Republican and Democratic parties on the major issues of the day. But a review of what Americans know about the political parties shows that the public is better informed about the partisan affiliations of two popular recent presidents — Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton — than it is about the positions of the parties on key issues that dominate the current national debate,” Pew editors say.
“About seven in 10 (71 percent) know that the Republican Party is considered to be the more conservative party. And majorities can correctly place the parties relative to each other on current issues that define the liberal-conservative divide, such as taxes, gay rights, abortion, and defense spending,” the survey report states.
Some outtakes from the quiz:
• “While 67 percent correctly identify the Democratic Party as more supportive of raising taxes on higher-income people to reduce the budget deficit, far fewer (53 percent) identify the Republican Party as more in favor of reducing the size and scope of government.”
• “While there is some confusion over the parties’ ideological and issue positions, two recent political figures are clearly identified with their respective parties. Overall, 85 percent of the public knows that Reagan was a Republican, while virtually the same percentage (84 percent) knows that Clinton is a Democrat.”
• People identifying themselves as Republicans “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 percent) identify the Democratic Party as being more supportive of reducing the size of the defense budget, compared with 59 percent of Republicans.”
• On the remaining issues — expanding the rights of gays and lesbians, increasing taxes on the wealthy, restricting abortion and providing immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally with a possible “path to citizenship” — there are no significant differences in knowledge between Democrats and Republicans.”
This report is based on telephone interviews conducted March 29-April 1, 2012 among a national sample of 1,000 adults 18 years of age or older living in the continental United States.