09/24/2007 - Nearly nine-in-ten Americans know that China was the source of dangerous toys and tainted food recently in the news. And sizeable majorities can identify House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the Sunni as the branch of Islam struggling with the Shia for control in Iraq. But fewer can identify Robert Gates' position in the administration, the approximate level of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, or the Hispanic candidate in the Democratic Party's presidential race.
Public knowledge of political and world affairs varies widely in the most recent update to the Pew News IQ survey, conducted Aug. 16-19 among 1,005 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Respondents correctly answered an average of seven multiple-choice questions out of the 12 asked on the quiz. But many people did very well: 26% could answer 10 or more of the questions. Relatively few people did very poorly; just 14% could answer only three or fewer questions.
The demographic differences in knowledge levels among respondents are familiar ones. Better educated people did better on every question than did those with less education. Overall, those with a college degree answered, on average, about eight (8.2) out of 12 questions correctly, while those with a high school education or less had an average of fewer than six (5.5) correct answers. Men did better than women on many questions, and, on average, correctly answered 1.3 more questions overall than women did.
Read the full report Political Knowledge Update and take the News IQ Quiz on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.