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Americans Flunk Simple 3-Question Political Survey


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I'm not surprised CNN, Letterman, The National Enquirer and The Daily Show have the most clueless audience.

 

http://www.livescience.com/culture/081015-...tical-news.html

 

 

Americans Flunk Simple 3-Question Political Survey

By LiveScience Staff

 

Some news audiences are more politically savvy than others, according to a new poll, with readers of The New Yorker and similar high-brow magazines being the most knowledgeable.

 

The survey, conducted between April 30 and June 1 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, measured the political knowledge of 3,612 U.S. adults. Participants were asked to name the controlling party of the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. secretary of state and Great Britain's prime minister.

 

Overall, just 18 percent of participants answered all three questions correctly.

 

More than 50 percent of Americans knew that the Democrats have a majority in the House, while 42 percent could identify the secretary of state (Condoleezza Rice). Less than 30 percent could name the prime minister of Great Britain (Gordon Brown).

 

Perfect scores

 

The best-informed news audiences crossed the ideological spectrum. Nearly half of regular readers of The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Harper's Magazine answered all three political knowledge questions correctly.

 

A perfect score was obtained by 44 percent of regular listeners of National Public Radio (NPR), 43 percent of regular viewers of MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" and 42 percent of the Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" audience. Thirty-four percent of "The Colbert Report" audience and 30 percent of "The Daily Show" audience got all three questions correct.

 

While most news audiences knew that Democrats have a majority in the House, participants struggled to correctly name the current British prime minister.

 

Just four news audiences had a majority who correctly identified Brown, including regular readers of The New Yorker and similar magazines such as The Atlantic, regular NPR listeners, regular readers of political magazines, such as The Weekly Standard and The New Republic, and regular viewers of "Hardball."

 

Just 44 percent of BBC viewers identified the prime minister correctly.

 

Here's a detailed breakdown of the percentage of individuals answering each of the three questions correctly from the different news audiences:

 

The New Yorker/Atlantic: 71 percent (correctly identified Democrats as the majority in the House), 71 percent (correctly identified Condoleezza Rice), 59 percent (correctly identified Gordon Brown)

NPR: 73 percent, 72 percent, 57percent

Hannity & Colmes: 84 percent, 73 percent, 49 percent

Rush Limbaugh: 83 percent, 71 percent, 41 percent

Colbert Report: 73 percent, 65 percent, 49 percent

Daily Show: 65 percent, 48 percent, 36 percent

NewsHour: 66 percent, 52 percent, 47 percent

O'Reilly Factor: 70 percent, 60 percent, 41 percent

C-SPAN: 63 percent, 59 percent, 35 percent

Letterman/Leno: 51 percent, 42 percent, 31 percent

CNN: 59 percent, 48 percent, 29 percent

National Enquirer: 44 percent, 32 percent, 22 percent

 

Education factor

 

In general, well-educated news audiences scored high on political knowledge. For instance, 54 percent of the regular readers of publications such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Harper's Magazine are college graduates, as are 54 percent of regular NPR listeners.

 

However, several news audiences with relatively low proportions of college graduates also scored well on the news quiz. Just 31 percent of regular "Hannity & Colmes" viewers are college graduates. Even still, 42 percent Hannity viewers got perfect scores on the political knowledge quiz, compared with 44 percent of NPR listeners.

 

Nearly 40 percent of the regular audience of the news parody "The Colbert Report" are college graduates, compared with 30 percent of "The Daily Show" viewers. Both shows have younger audiences than other TV news sources, with less than a quarter of Colbert and Daily Show viewers over the age of 50, compared with more than half of "Hardball" and "Hannity & Colmes" viewers being 50 and older.

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Ranking from most informed to most clueless with the percentage answered correctly.

 

68.7% - Hannity & Colmes

67.3% - NPR

67.0% - The New Yorker/Atlantic

65.0% - Rush Limbaugh

62.3% - Colbert Report

57.0% - O'Reilly Factor

55.0% - NewsHour

52.3% - C-SPAN

49.7% - Daily Show

45.3% - CNN

41.3% - Letterman/Leno

32.7% - National Enquirer

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The trend you note makes sense. You'll notice that, for the most part, the shows and publications with more "clueless" audiences as you say tend to attract a more generalist crowd (people that watch CNN do so for many reasons that have nothing to do with politics and more to do with general news).

 

Also, I think these questions are not really all that substantive (except for the question about who controls Congress). Does it matter that you know that the name of the British PM is Gordon Brown? I think it's more relevant to test Americans' knowledge of the issues.

 

Any fool can answer these questions if they happen to see something that day (like a title like British PM Gordon Brown") without knowing a thing about any of the issues. That's why I thought the random question Bush got in 2000 asking him if he knew the president of whatever country was unfair and irrelevant.

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The trend you note makes sense. You'll notice that, for the most part, the shows and publications with more "clueless" audiences as you say tend to attract a more generalist crowd (people that watch CNN do so for many reasons that have nothing to do with politics and more to do with general news).

 

Also, I think these questions are not really all that substantive (except for the question about who controls Congress). Does it matter that you know that the name of the British PM is Gordon Brown? I think it's more relevant to test Americans' knowledge of the issues.

 

Any fool can answer these questions if they happen to see something that day (like a title like British PM Gordon Brown") without knowing a thing about any of the issues. That's why I thought the random question Bush got in 2000 asking him if he knew the president of whatever country was unfair and irrelevant.

 

I think supposedly more people get their political news from John Stewart's show than from the nightly news. I think I read or heard that somewhere. If that's the case you would hope that the The Daily Show crowd wouldn't be so clueless but from the very limited exposure I've had to that show (a clip here or there on youtube) I think it's a very dumb show so I'm not surprised the audience is so clueless.

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