Poll: Most Americans Need Civics Lessons For Dummies

January 29, 2010

(ChattahBox)—-The majority of Americans are pretty clueless about how our government works and have limited knowledge about prominent people and major events in the news, according to a new Pew Research Center poll. With cable news networks airing news 24/7, taken together with Internet news sources and standard print newspapers, there certainly is not a lack of access to information. Perhaps the majority of Americans have chosen an escapist route; devoting their leisure time to watching reality television, like American Idol and Jersey Shore, instead of CNN and other news sources. In a difficult time in our country of a deep recession, two wars, terrorist threats, joblessness and people losing their homes, who can blame them? But Democracy flourishes when a nation has an informed electorate. If we become a nation of dummies, then people are easily swayed by harmful propaganda. Think death panels, birtherism, wild conspiracy theories about FEMA detention camps and the false assertion that health insurance reform is a “government takeover.”

And worse than the dismal poll results, a similar general knowledge poll conducted last year shows that as a nation, we know significantly less than we did a year ago. Only 42 percent of Americans answered at least six questions correctly out of 12 in the new poll, compared with 71 percent in March 2009

The Pew Research Center’s News IQ Quiz asked those polled 12 multiple choice questions. In the politics and government category, only 32 percent know that the measure received no support from Republican members; not a single vote. And broken down by party, more Republicans than Democrats know that not a single Republican voted for health care reform, with 38 percent of Republicans knowing the correct answer, compared to only 28 percent of Democrats. And this trend is true with all 12 questions, with more Republicans than Democrats correctly answering the questions.

Regarding the number of votes needed to block a Senate filibuster, only 26 percent of those polled knows that it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster. This result is discouraging, at a time when our country has a dysfunctional Senate, where the Republican minority can obstruct and block every singly measure proposed by the majority.

When it comes to the personalities involved in politics and government, only 32 percent of respondents know that Michael Steele is the chairman of the Republican National Committee. And only 39 percent of those polled know that Harry Reid was the Senate Majority Leader. Surprisingly, 48 percent of Republicans correctly answered the question about the Senate Majority Leader, compared to just 33 percent of Democrats.

When it comes to prominent people, less than half of Americans at 41 percent, were able to correctly identify Stephen Colbert as a comedian and television talk show host.

Americans were slightly more knowledgeable in world affairs. Fifty-nine percent knew that China held the most U.S. debt, and 57 percent knew that the U.S. imports most of its oil. More than half those polled, at 55 percent knew that the unemployment rate is closer to 10 percent. And despite massive news coverage surrounding the underwear bomber’s Christmas-day attempt to bomb an airliner bound for Detroit, only 50 percent know that the attempted bomber trained in Yemen. And again, with increased coverage and attention paid to the war in Afghanistan, only 43 percent know that there were more casualties in Afghanistan than there were in Iraq last year.

The entire survey can be found here. And you can test your knowledge against the rest of the country, by taking the same news quiz online here.

h/t Raw Story


3 Responses to “Poll: Most Americans Need Civics Lessons For Dummies”

  1. SgtX on January 29th, 2010 8:37 pm

    Once again this proves why the likes of Obama and his contingency of idiots are sitting in the White House!

  2. josh on February 5th, 2010 6:21 am

    its wild to think that there is not fema concentration camps being set up and the government cares nothing for our health. It is writers such as yourself who weaken and pollute the mind of americans, because you seem to be unaware yourself, or worse, going along with what your told or think u know by corporate america. Is it that we all just lack intellegence or choose not to fill our brain with ridiculous american politics, which has only crippled us. Wake up! choose a different profession if u cant get the facts straight. I dont blame most americans for not caring and knowing about the political world, it is because perhaps we are intellegent and awakening to the fact that the u.s. government is our enemy indeed who blatantly lie to us in arrogance, and who cant even provide us the supposedly greatest nation in the world with sufficient healthcare. Nations amuse themselves concerning america, and hate our empty pride. Hmm healthcare, if we cant even get healthcare right the most basic institution for a nation to posses then somethings severly wrong especially here in the great u.s.a. Can you not see this? how ridiculous this huge show is in the government body. Well unfortuneately time is out, and it will come down to the individual what he or she believes which will shape their destiny. Idiots are the wise and the wise and learned the idiots, and whoever cant see this at this point in time God help them.

  3. Edwin Chang on February 24th, 2010 3:06 am

    @ SgtX

    …so then how do you explain the election of George Bush and his contingency of REAL idiots? The same uninformed (supposidely) American electorate only they chose “W” in 2000 and 2004. And do you truly believe an informed, intelligent American populance would choose McCain/Palin over Obama/McCain?

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