Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What Republicans Know

The most politically knowledgeable conservative Republicans, according to this report, are more likely to support Rick Santorum for the GOP nomination.  The most knowledgeable moderate Republicans?  They prefer Mitt Romney.  Wait!  What about Ron Paul?  According to the national survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University:
“Conservatives who are paying attention to current events are pleased with Santorum,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and an analyst for the PublicMind Poll. “The opposite happens with Ron Paul.  The more conservatives pay attention, the less they like what they hear from him.”
Essentially, the more knowledgeable a Republican is, the more likely he or she is to gravitate toward a candidate that, arguably, makes sense given their ideological predispositions.   A lot of Paul's positions cut across traditional partisan and ideological boundaries, so it's logical (not to Paul fans, I admit) that the more knowledgeable a conservative Republican is, the less they like what he has to say.

And if you're a Romney fan, this isn't half bad news. After all, the most knowledgeable moderates prefer him, and once it gets to a general election that's where the real battle lies, for the moderate vote (though you could argue Romney will need to appeal more to conservatives than other GOPers may have to, and that's a plausible argument, plus's he's got to do well in today's primaries).

So here's the more complete report, and by complete I mean no real information on the kinds of knowledge or current events questions asked.  But there's some good stuff here if you like to have fun with data.  Take, for example, the following:
Conservative Republicans who were unable to answer any questions correctly and thus rank low on the knowledge scale have a 31% chance of supporting Romney, a 16% chance of supporting Paul, and a 19% chance of supporting Santorum.

In English, the less knowledgeable conservatives went with Romney.  Why?  Because the less knowledgeable you are, the more likely you are to be swayed by political advertising, various appeals, and even emotions.  Romney so far has outspent the others, so this makes sense.  Yes, Santorum makes more emotional appeals, but outside of cable news he's not getting quite the airtime that Romney gets through big spending.

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