The Politics of Ignorance:

I have an election day op ed on political ignorance in The Jurist. A brief excerpt:

Nancy Pelosi may soon become the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. But 67% of Americans admitted in a recent survey that they don’t know enough about her to have an opinion. Fifty-five percent say the same thing about her political rival Dennis Hastert, the current Republican Speaker of the House. These findings are not surprising to experts; indeed, they are consistent with decades of research showing uniformly low levels of political knowledge in the American electorate. Moreover, such ignorance is not primarily the result of laziness or stupidity, but is usually caused by perfectly rational behavior. Not only does political ignorance lead to low levels of information acquisition, it also leads many voters to make poor use of the knowledge they do have. There is probably no way to eliminate political ignorance in the foreseeable future. But its harmful effects could be mitigated by reducing the size and complexity of government.

Also check out this excellent piece on political ignorance by George Mason economics professor Bryan Caplan.