Are Voters Dumb?

Over at the left wing FBIHOP blog, we at the Rio Grande Foundation are accused of believing that voters are “dumb” for voting, albeit narrowly, to raise the gross receipts tax to fund the Rail Runner. Of course, I never said that voters in New Mexico or elsewhere are dumb, rather, I simply argued in a recent Albuquerque Journal column that government should not be able to use taxpayer money to fund campaigns in support of ballot measures. FBIHOP apparently interprets this as my saying that voters are dumb.
Nonetheless, lets not let the facts get in the way of a perfectly interesting discussion. Are voters really informed when it comes to voting on the issues? If anyone watched the JayWalking or other “man-on-the-street” segments about the presidential candidates it seems pretty obvious that voters are not always well informed.
While it is easy to criticize ignorance, as Reason Magazine writer Bryan Caplan wrote voters tend to make boneheaded decisions on basic economic issues when they go to the polls. This is not a sign that they are inherently “dumb,” rather it is a sign of rational ignorance in which people concern themselves with their jobs and succeeding in their daily lives rather than keeping track of politicians and policy issues.
While overcoming rational ignorance is difficult, it would seem that at the very least policymakers should stop government bureaucrats from using taxpayer money to sway voters to vote for bigger government.