On Monday April 1, I will be speaking at a George Mason University School of Law panel on the Tea Party movement and voter rationality. Lots of data show that voters are often ignorant about politics and highly biased in their evaluation of the information they do know. The panel will focus on the extent to which Tea Party supporters are better than other voters on these dimensions, worse, or roughly the same.
Also participating in the event are co-blogger Todd Zywicki (who is a prominent academic expert on public choice theory), and Matt Kibbe of Freedomworks, one of the leading organizations associated with the Tea Party Movement). The panel will be held at George Mason Law School from noon to 1 PM in Room 222. It is sponsored by the GMU Federalist Society.
I have written about the Tea Party movement and political ignorance in this article, and here. My general take is that Tea Party supporters probably have higher political knowledge levels than the average voter because they have higher-than-average education and interest in politics (two strong predictors of political knowledge). However, as I discuss in my article linked above, they are far from free of the ignorance and political bias that are common across the political spectrum. For example, I cited surveys showing that “birtherism” is much more widespread among Tea Party supporters than among the public as a whole. This is part of a general pattern in which committed partisans are more likely to fall for myths that conform to their preexisting biases.