You knew they were out of touch. But did you know that the average American legislator believes his or her constituents are 15-20 percent more conservative than they really are?
A recent study asked almost 2,000 legislators what their constituents thought about gay marriage, universal healthcare, and abolishing federal welfare. Then it compared their answers to polling data from their districts to see how well the legislators understood the people they represent. Here are two of the resulting graphs (click the graphic for a full-size version):
Even liberal legislators tend to overestimate the conservative leanings in their districts by about 5 percentage points.
The typical conservative legislator overestimates his or her district’s conservatism by a whopping 20 percentage points. Indeed, he or she believes the district is even more conservative than the most right-leaning district in the entire country.