Thursday, 17 November 2011

Look into the abyss

I've been doing a bit of trawling through the old New Zealand Election Surveys, partially in preparation for a talk I'm giving in a fortnight on voter ignorance, partially in preparing a paper with Bryan Caplan, Wayne Grove, and Ilya Somin on voter ability to correctly attribute political responsibility for outcomes.

One small bit of the darkness: respondents were asked a few quiz questions assessing how well they understand a few basics. Here's the set from 2008, including a new one on Treasury. Correct answers are in bold type.

QuestionTrueFalse"Don't Know"
The term of Parliament is four years19%78%3%
Enrolling as a voter in New Zealand is compulsory.65%30%5%
It is not necessary to be a New Zealand Citizen
to be eligible to vote in New Zealand
Interest rates in New Zealand are set by the Treasury42%37%22%
New Zealand is a member of the World Trade Organization81%2%17%

Maybe this answers Matt Nolan's question about why the #OWS folks protested outside of the wrong agency. They may simply confused about who is responsible for what.

88% of respondents agreed it is a citizen's duty to vote.

The 63% who did not know who sets interest rates in New Zealand ought to read Brennan's argument that those choosing to vote have a duty to vote well.

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