Liberals love to paint Republicans, conservatives and to a slightly lesser degree Libertarians as a bunch of idiots.  John Stewart has made millions promoting this idea as has the entire SNL cast. Criticism of Sarah Palin is rarely substantive; rather, people usually just call her stupid (along with a variety of other words not fit to print).  It’s become popular culture now to just assume republicans and conservatives are made up of a bunch of poor, uneducated, Neanderthals “clinging to their guns and religion,” as President Obama so condescendingly put it.

The mainstream media attempted to do this with the Tea Party movement…that is until a poll came out showing most individuals involved in the movement are more affluent and educated than the picture so carefully crafted by the media.  The poll also showed that a majority of the tea party activists were (gasp) women.

Well, another interesting poll has emerged this week (h/t Thomas Peters at the APP Blog) showing that Republicans, conservatives and libertarians know much more about economics than the Left.  Daniel Klein discusses this poll in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal

Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country-liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101.  Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents’ (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. We also asked the respondents about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian.

So, what were the results? 

In this case, percentage of conservatives answering incorrectly was 22.3%, very conservatives 17.6% and libertarians 15.7%. But the percentage of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly was 67.6% and liberals 60.1%. The pattern was not an anomaly.

… How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.

Americans in the first three categories do reasonably well. But the left has trouble squaring economic thinking with their political psychology, morals and aesthetics.

To be sure, none of the eight questions specifically challenge the political sensibilities of conservatives and libertarians. Still, not all of the eight questions are tied directly to left-wing concerns about inequality and redistribution. In particular, the questions about mandatory licensing, the standard of living, the definition of monopoly, and free trade do not specifically challenge leftist sensibilities.

Yet on every question the left did much worse. On the monopoly question, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (31%) was more than twice that of conservatives (13%) and more than four times that of libertarians (7%). On the question about living standards, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (61%) was more than four times that of conservatives (13%) and almost three times that of libertarians (21%). 

Wow, doesn’t this make you feel really good knowing the liberals are in charge in Washington?  Perhaps this new poll explains Washington’s runaway spending, record deficits and inability to pass a federal budget.