The Pew Research Center asked people four questions to determine their knowledge of current events:
- Which party controls the House of Representatives?
- What’s the current unemployment rate?
- What nation does Angela Merkel lead?
- Which presidential candidate favors taxing higher-income Americans?
Seem like pretty basic, easy questions to me. However:
- Only 14% of the general public got all four questions right. (Seriously? Those are easy questions.)
- About 17% got all four questions wrong.
- Rachel Maddow’s audience did the best: 38% got all four right.
- Readers of the New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and the Economist all placed above 30%.
- MSNBC viewers did better (21%) than the audiences of Rush Limbaugh (19%), CNN (17%), and Fox News (16%). This affirms other studies I’ve heard which show that Fox News viewers tend to be ill informed (try this, this, this, this, and this for example). But note to MSNBC: 21% ain’t nothin’ to brag about.
- USA Today readers and viewers of the network evening news coming in last at 15%. That kind of surprises me. I only read USA Today when I’m traveling, so I picture USA Today readers as well-traveled folk. But maybe they just read the entertainment section.
So how did people answer the questions?
- 54% knew that Republicans controlled the House.
- 52% knew the unemployment rate was about 8%.
- 22% knew Angela Merkel led Germany.
- 66% knew that Obama was more supportive of increasing taxes on the wealthy.
And these are the people who will be–yes, ever so, uh, thoughtfully–electing our next president.