Bob Bernick’s Notebook: Are Utah Republicans or Utah Democrats Smarter? An Analysis

OK, what follows is a controversial column.

Perhaps to some.

For I will attempt, using six months worth of data from UtahPolicy polls, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates, to determine who is smarter – Utah Republicans or Utah Democrats?

Now, we could have asked a Utah Republican straight up: Who is smarter, you or a Utah Democrat?

I THINK I could guess that answer.

Likewise, Jones could have asked a Utah Democrat: Who is smarter, you or a Utah Republican?

I KNOW I could guess that answer.

Instead, I will compare the levels of education completed, as found in six different Jones polls from March through August of this calendar year.

Before I give you the results, some caveats (a fancy Latin word for “hedging our bets” – which is partial proof that I got me a Bachelor’s Degree and am smart enough to write this here column).

— As part of his demographic questions – asked to ensure a good sampling of the population – Jones asks each respondent his or her level of education: Less than a high school degree, a high school degree or its equivalent, a two-year associate degree or a technical degree or certification, a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college, or a graduate or professional degree.

Like with other demographic questions, we allow a respondent to self-identify. He or she could lie to us on their level of education, just as he or she could lie on whether he or she is a Republican or a Democrat, or an active member of the LDS Church, and so on.

— The six different polls had different sample sizes – thus different margins of error. So you can’t really compare one poll with another.

Instead you look for trends from one poll to another: Are Republicans usually, or always, higher in the percent of bachelor degrees, are Democrats usually, or always, greater in the percent of graduate degrees, and such.

And are political independents more close in smartness to Republicans or Democrats?

Or are political independents just smarter across the board?

Here is what I see looking at the numbers from the six different polls:

— A larger percent of Republicans have bachelor’s degrees from a four-year college or university than do Democrats or political independents.

The percentages vary from poll to poll, but generally between 30 percent to 38 percent of Republicans say they have a four-year degree.

Democrats are a bit lower – between 27 percent to 34 percent of Democrats say they have a bachelor’s degree.

Political independents are still a bit lower than that – between 24 percent to 34 percent of these folks say they have a four-year degree.

Of course, historically the Democratic Party says it is the party of working people – blue-collar folks who may not get a college degree.

And reflecting that, our surveys show that Democrats hold more two-year associate and technical degrees than do Republicans.

However – and I find this interesting – in every poll this year Jones finds that Democrats hold a higher percentage of graduate and professional degrees than do Utah Republicans.

In other words, more Democrats (from their party pool) have master’s or doctorate degrees or are “doctors and lawyers and such.”

Democrats are from 3 percentage points to 19 percentage points higher than Republicans in the polls to hold those elevated degrees.

And political independents also hold those higher degrees more often than do Republicans.

So, who is smarter?

Well, since there are more Republicans in Utah than Democrats, there are more smarter Republicans than smarter Democrats.

But if you look at the political party pools of Republicans, Democrats and independents, and you add together the percentages of each who earn a four-year college degree, or a master’s degree, or a PhD or some other graduate degree, like a JD, then one can say that a greater percent of Utah Democrats are smarter than the same pool of Utah Republicans.

This assumes, of course, that you agree with the idea that smartness comes in the level of education you achieve, and not just “horse sense” that comes with innate intelligence and wisdom through experience.

You notice I’m not talking about who is smarter, men or women.

I’m not dumb enough to go there.