A Ten Year Old Political Quiz

A ten year old political quiz is making its rounds, courtesy of Andrew Sullivan. Instapundit and Ann Althouse reveal their moderate scores.

I remember this quiz very well from 1994. It was in the Sunday USA weekend magazine section of the Denver paper. The TL kid, then in his early teens, came home from school a day or so later and said the teacher had assigned them to take the test with their parents.

Admittedly, at that time he attended an affluent private school where one wouldn't expect to find that didn't have many liberals among the parents. But the results were disturbing nonetheless. Here's why.

The TL kid and I took the test together, and the next day he went off to school. That night at dinner I asked him what happened at school with the test. He was very angry. He said he had been totally embarrassed. He said, "They said we're to the left of Jesse Jackson," as if there was something terribly wrong with that.

I was shocked and it was at that moment I decided to make politics a central part of our daily discussions. I'm proud to report as the TL kid is now about to finish law school, his politics are at least as "liberal" as mine and we are both probably to the left of where Jesse Jackson is today. In fact, we've laughed about that test many times since.

In any event, I just retook the test and scored an 8. So I'm not surprised that Instapundit and Ann Althouse are considered moderates for scoring 21. But, that's quite a difference.

I think the test scoring is skewed. I would put a moderate at 10 to 15 points (Hillary and Bill Clinton) and start the conservative scoring at 20. 30 and above would belong to a new section, the radical right.

Aside: One question on the test is faulty.

10. Which would curb violent crime most?
  • Stricter controls on the sale of guns
  • Mandatory sentences for those who use guns in the commission of a crime
  • Both

I believe the answer is "neither" but there was no choice for that. So I had to answer a question with a belief I did not have to finish the test.

Update: Eugene Volokh comments on the test's faults.

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  • Display: Sort:
    "...an affluent public school..." (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Fredo on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 06:50:16 PM EST
    Haven't quite got around to reviewing the quiz itself.  My attention was arrested enroute by this howler in the intro: "...an affluent private school where one wouldn't expect to find many liberals among the parents."  Really?  Is there any other kind of parent one would expect to find among the parents of such kids?  Shall we explore the rolls at, say, St. Albans, or Choate, or you-name-it?  What schools did the Kennedys attend, and to what schools have they sent their kids?  Wasn't Chelsea Clinton at Sidwell Friends?  Great Scott!  The great majority of high-volume political donors in this country contribute to the Democratic Party.  Do their kids go to the same public schools as those of the working class?  In someone's dream world, I suppose...

    Affluent PRIVATE school (none / 0) (#18)
    by Kitt on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 09:17:33 PM EST
    that's what was written....big difference between private & public school.

    Five (none / 0) (#1)
    by proudleftists on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 04:06:22 PM EST
    I took the test and scored a five. I guess that I am an extreme liberal. According to the
    " chart " that was provided I am linked to Teddy Kennedy.

    Four (none / 0) (#2)
    by Edger on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 04:18:10 PM EST

    ten (none / 0) (#3)
    by cpinva on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 04:26:01 PM EST
    hillary and i, at least in 1994, were soul mates. :)

    four (none / 0) (#4)
    by eric on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 04:31:27 PM EST

    4 too (none / 0) (#26)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 02:48:06 PM EST
    I don't think the questions are well constructed at all.

    Five (none / 0) (#5)
    by Che's Lounge on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 04:36:33 PM EST
    But I didn't like the wording of some of the questions.

    Me too. (none / 0) (#7)
    by Edger on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 04:44:36 PM EST
    # 21 for instance.

    fun (none / 0) (#6)
    by eric on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 04:41:43 PM EST
    Many of you might have seen this test.  Pretty simple, but it's a hoot, as well. Sponsored by the Libertarians...


    Left-Liberal, here.

    I remember that one.... (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 04:57:14 PM EST
    Right on the border of Left and Libertarian.

    Its a better poll, imo.  


    dead center (none / 0) (#24)
    by cpinva on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 02:21:01 PM EST
    between liberal & libertarian. i had a problem with the question regarding social security: it's not, and never has been, anyone's primary retirement fund. it's insurance. hence, FICA (Federal Insurance), not Federal Retirement.

    until the facts are established (about anything really), you can't possibly have an intelligent discussion.

    aside from that, it was a pretty nifty little quiz.


    25, but ... (none / 0) (#8)
    by roy on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 04:48:52 PM EST
    ... I feel that the test lacks the nuance to measure my radical "Hell if I know"ism.

    If a test like this is used in schools, it should be as an example of how silly it is to take Internet quizzes seriously.

    I got a 19 (none / 0) (#30)
    by peacrevol on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:57:27 AM EST
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA "hell if I know-ism". I like that.

    I had the exact same reaction about #10 as Jeralyn. Neither. There were several questions like that.

    On the other quiz, I was dead center Libertarian. My red dot was between the 'r' and 't'


    Number 9... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 04:48:58 PM EST
    And I found another question I couldn't answer, as well as Jeralyn's example, on which I agree.

    In the "which do you trust more?" section, I trust the FBI and IRS equally (meaning not at all) and couldn't pick between them.

    Agreed (none / 0) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 05:37:38 PM EST
    forgot about that one.  You are entirely correct.

    out of curiousity (none / 0) (#25)
    by cpinva on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 02:22:56 PM EST
    why do distrust the irs? have you had personal, unhappy dealings with them, or is it just distrust of gov't entities in general?

    As for me.... (none / 0) (#33)
    by kdog on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 12:56:37 PM EST
    its both..a general mistrust and bad dealings in the past.  The IRS has given me a lot of grief with my state tax collector by giving them an incorrect living address for a past year.  The state came after me for a years worth of state taxes when I wasn't even a resident, all because of an IRS screw-up.  6 months and counting pending a resolution.  

    Exactly - caused me pause (none / 0) (#19)
    by Kitt on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 09:19:01 PM EST
    what is that like a SERIOUS question. (Yeah, neither - ever.)

    33 (none / 0) (#11)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 04:57:52 PM EST

    My score... (none / 0) (#12)
    by LarryE on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 05:08:25 PM EST
    ...was 3.

    I also juggled some answers to see what were considered more "liberal" or "conservative" choices (by how they moved the score). Some surprised me.

    And like others, I had problems with some of the questions not only because of the forced choice method (which very often has that sort of problem) but also because a couple of questions actually involved two opinions. For example, #22: Couldn't you endorse the Fairness Doctrine without believing that talk radio has an apparently inherent "unhealthy impact on the political process?" (Note the question didn't say "talk radio as dominated by one viewpoint," it just said "talk radio."

    "Affluent private schools" (none / 0) (#13)
    by bx58 on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 05:30:40 PM EST
    So you don't expect to find liberals in affluent private schools? Is this phenomenon found in just your son's school or throughout the country?

    From my experience working in Wash,DC (which is as liberal as you can get) there isn't a public school bus stop west of Wisconsin Ave in the very affluent Northwest part of the city.

    In other words NOBODY sends their kids to public school.

    Just go by the affluent private schools at dismissal time and you'll see the luxury cars picking up the kids with their "Bush lied,people died" and "Redefeat Bush" bumper stickers on the back.

    I don't think rich republicans have a corner on affluent private schools.

    Maybe it was just (none / 0) (#15)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 05:40:09 PM EST
    the school my son went to.  It was a typical "country day school."  He left there in 9th grade and went to public high school.  

    Public vs. Private (none / 0) (#32)
    by Slado on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 12:44:48 PM EST
    The halls of ivy league universities and elite private schools are filled annually by rich liberals and conservatives.  Somebody has to pay the bills so those schools can give out scholorships to the less fortunate.

    If private schools had to depend only on rich conservatives they'd go out of buisness or there would be much fewer of them.  

    Same goes for country clubs, driving clubs, shooting clubs and any other form of social snobbery you can think of.   These kind of "perks" if you will depend more on stature then political ideology.   Snobs can be both liberal and conservative.  

    I got a 26.


    Three (none / 0) (#16)
    by aw on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 06:20:30 PM EST
    But I also didn't like a lot of the choices.

    I got a 16...what a waste of time. (none / 0) (#20)
    by bx58 on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 10:50:01 PM EST
    FDR and Reagan should've gotten a Saddam kinda send-off...

    Trashing the constitution and voting for a post-9-11 world would get you less points. Bogus survey.

    Oh now, bx... (none / 0) (#22)
    by Edger on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 07:35:09 AM EST
    don't blame the tools, man.

    5 (none / 0) (#21)
    by roger on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 07:19:30 AM EST

    That test is a joke (none / 0) (#23)
    by Dadler on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 01:48:00 PM EST
    So many questions cannot be honestly answered with the pathetic choices given that it's worth no one's time.  Except those, no doubt, who actually think in this kind of bumper-sticker- slogan manner.  

    You know (none / 0) (#27)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jan 07, 2007 at 11:44:41 AM EST
    every now and then we agree.

    7 is my score. (none / 0) (#28)
    by Aaron on Sun Jan 07, 2007 at 08:58:21 PM EST
    I guess that makes me a moderate around here :).

    Politics does not belong in school (none / 0) (#29)
    by sweatpants on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 02:11:07 AM EST
    Why the heck did a school assign a political quiz as homework?  Was it an optional assignment?  Why is it in any way appropriate for the school or teacher to ask for a family's political opinions?  What will an unscrupulous teacher (or other school employee who gets their hands on the quiz) do with this information?  Favor students with a similar viewpoint?  Discriminate against those with a different viewpoint?  

    I have encountered enough different teachers in enough different schools to know that teachers (the classroom authority figures) aren't perfect, and can and do treat their students in different ways, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously, and despite protestations of treating all the kids the same, and being fair and equal to all.  Even the most ethical person can subconsciously have prejudices.

    The assignment may very well have been quite innocent.  However, I think it was inappropriate.

    Aside from the teacher issue, there is the student issue.  Suppose a group of students decides to bully the kid or kids whose political viewpoint is in the minority.  In that case, the teacher has opened a can of worms that can't be closed.

    Teaching about politics is a good thing, IMO.  Demanding that students and their families reveal their personal politics is not.

    I realize that the point of the post was about the quiz, not about the appropriateness of the quiz, so I apologize for being somewhat (but not completely) off topic.  I have had bad experiences with teachers and schools concerning prejudice, and so have some of my friends... thus the rant.  


    More quiz fun (none / 0) (#31)
    by peacrevol on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 12:03:42 PM EST
    Try to take it as if you were trying to get a conservative score. Then take it as if you were trying to get a leftist score. It's tough. I tried to be conservative and got a 29. Tried to be liberal and got a 6.