World's Smallest Political Quiz - Benton County Fair 2009 - BCRCC
John H. Detweiler

The Benton County Republican Central Committee (BCRCC) gave the "World's Smallest Political Quiz" to all who would take it at the Benton County (Oregon) 2009 Fair. The fair was held between July 28th and August 1st. The questions asked and some information about the quiz can be found on a flyer from the Advocates for Self-Government (pdf).World's Smallest Political Quiz More information about the quiz can be found at the web site mentioned in the flyer. This quiz is not a product of the Republicans; and, as the BCRCC reads the supporting information, the quiz is non-partisan. The goal of the quiz is to determine where one stands politically.

The BCRCC makes no claims that the set of people taking the quiz was a random sample of Benton County voters.

The sample was self selected; it consisted of people who stopped by the BCRCC booth and took the quiz. Forty Democrats, eleven Libertarians, 157 Republicans, and thirty-one people from other political parties, or who were not aligned with any party, took the quiz. The large number of Republicans relative to the other parties was not a surprise since the booth was a Republican booth. Hopefully the sample is not too biased to be somewhat representative of the voters. The image to the right shows where all quiz takers are politically. The red dots are Republicans, the blue dots are Democrats, the green dots are Libertarians, and the yellow dots are all other parties and the non-aligned. As can be seen, the quiz results are shown in a two-dimensional field, the dimensions being personal issues and economic issues. The field is divided into Libertarian, Left, Centrist, Right, and Statist areas. The placement of the dots show where the quiz taker is located on those dimensions.

Not surprisingly, the Democrats tend to be on the Left and the Libertarians in the Libertarian area. The other/non-aligned tend to be in the Centrist and Libertarian areas. And, the Republicans tend to be in the Libertarian and Right areas. A few quiz takers seem to have political philosophies very different from their parties and may wish to rethink their political affiliations.

The chart to the left shows where each group -- Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and other/NA -- stands as a group. The plot shows the means of personal and economic issue scores and the 95% confidence ellipse[1] of the means for each group. The software package would not rotate the chart so that it would have the same orientation as the two-dimensional quiz field above.

The mean location for the Libertarians is in the Libertarian area but the confidence ellipse is quite large reflecting the small sample. The location of the other/non-aligned mean is not unexpected. However, the mean other/non-aligned location may well be in the libertarian area. I suspect that the location of these two sets of means reflects the Libertarian streak that runs throughout Oregon.

The mean location for the Republicans is in the Libertarian area, not the Right area. The confidence ellipse is relatively small reflecting the large sample. There is a reasonable probability that the mean location is in the Centrist area but it is probably not in the Right area which tells us that the Benton County Republicans are probably a libertarian-centrist group, not a right wing group. The mean location of the Republicans is very close to that of the Libertarians.

The mean location for the Democrats is on the Left, but not on the far left. However, there is a significant probability that the mean location is in the Centrist area and a small probability that the mean location is in the Libertarian area.


Assuming that this sample is at least somewhat representative, the Benton County voter is probably more libertarian than statist. Moreover, the voter is probably not on the far left, or the far right. However, the Democrats are clearly to the left of everybody else. Another way of describing the data may be to say that Republicans, Libertarians, and Others/NA seem to share many values, while the Democrats are alone in left field. Generally speaking, Democrats outnumber Republicans and the non-aligned outnumber Democrats. It seems reasonable that candidates who are positioned at the intersection of Republicans, Libertarians, and Other/NA -- economic dimension of about 70 and personal dimension of about 60 -- could easily win in Benton County. Such a candidate might even win in Corvallis.


  1. The 95% confidence ellipses are actually a bit greater than 95% because the means are bounded by 0 and 100. I could have estimated that area but did not because it would not really shed more light on the situation.