A PEW Study says even though voters know the ideology of each political party, they don’t know the policies. And left-leaning voters know the least.
The study (April 2012) found that voters are good at identifying party politics, but much worse at knowing the precise policy positions.
The American study showed 70% of people knew the Republicans were conservative. The majority of them could match party positions on major topics of the day.
Only half to two thirds can correctly name (or guess) policy positions on random issues.
It turns out the Republican voters are substantially better at describing policy positions of any party, than Democratic voters. On some issues, Democrats are up to 30 percentage points worse at correctly stating the position.
Some lessons I draw from these results are:
- People identify with ideology of parties, not policies
- People infer policy from ideology
- Left-leaning citizens are more likely to vote on ideology, not policy.
- Party support from left-leaning citizens is less certain because they are less likely to be able to substantiate a decision in their minds by citing policy facts.
I arrive at the last conclusion because psychology research shows that people need a fact (accurate or not, and however it is arrived at) to make judgements. This lack of policy knowledge could well make them less certain about the basis of their decision-making.