Report

What Does the Public Know?

  • October 14, 2009

Take the Quiz Before You Read the Report

As part of the Pew News IQ Project, people are invited to test their own news IQ by taking an interactive quiz now available on the Pew Research Center's Web site.  The short quiz includes the same questions that were included in the national poll. Participants will instantly learn how they did on the quiz in comparison with the general public as well as with people like them. To take the quiz, click on this link: http://pewresearch.org/politicalquiz

What does the Public Know?

The U.S. government has a lot on its plate right now, which means that the American public has a lot to keep up with in the news. The Pew Research Center's latest News IQ Quiz finds a mixed picture of public awareness on key issues, with majorities aware of some key facts on health care and the economy. But other questions stump large segments of the public, including the current size of the U.S. military commitment in Afghanistan, the approximate level of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the name of a key environmental proposal being debated in Congress.

On health care, which has dominated news coverage for much of the summer, most Americans are aware that the U.S. spends more per capita on health care than most major European nations. And more than half (56%) know that the debate in Congress over a "public option" pertains to health care legislation and not some other substantive policy area. By contrast, far fewer (18%) can correctly identify Max Baucus as chair of the Senate Finance Committee that has developed legislation to reform the U.S. health care system.

The current news quiz, conducted Oct. 1-4 among 1,002 adults reached on cell phones and landlines, asked 12 multiple choice questions about people, events and issues in the news. Respondents answered an average of 5.3 questions correctly.

Read the full report What Does the Public Know? on the the Pew Research Center's Web site.