The Pew Research Center does a News IQ Survey to test the public’s knowledge of world and national affairs based on a series of 12 multiple choice questions. If you want to take the quiz yourself before reading the outcomes below, click here.
So, here is how people did. Snarky comments are our own, and do *not* reflect the views of Pew. There is one sobering note in this survey which we’ll mention later.
– 84 percent knew the name of the talk show host who supports Barack Obama. (Awright, we’ll give you a hint. Think “opera” and free associate. Second hint: the three incorrect choices were Jay Leno, Dr. Phil and Rush Limbaugh).
– 70 percent knew the Democrats were in the majority in the House.
– 70 percent knew that Condoleezza Rice was Secretary of State.
– 62 percent knew that the Sunnis were a branch of Islam along with the Sh’ites.
– 50 percent knew that Hugo Chavez was president of Venezuela. (Now that Venezuela is selling discount-price oil to help low-income people in several northeastern states, some might have thought Chavez was running for governor).
– 46 percent knew Kosovo had declared independent from Serbia.
– 40 percent knew Howard Dean was chairman of the Democratic National Committee. (They must have remembered “The Scream.”)
– 35 percent knew Ben Bernanke was chairman of the Federal Reserve.
– 31 percent knew the Dow was at about 12,000 points.
– 28 percent knew the number of troops killed in Iraq, around 4,000.
– 24 percent knew Harry Reid was Democratic leader in the Senate.
The sobering note is that on the question of Iraq military fatalities, the number of Americans who are aware of those numbers has declined significantly. As the rankings show, 28 percent got the number correct in this survey compared to 54 percent in August 2007. Most of those who were off underestimated the number of deaths – 35 percent said about 3,000 and 11 percent said about 2,000. Pew noted that figures provided by the Project for Excellence in Journalism suggests that this might be correlated with a drop in the percentage of stories about the war from 15 percent of the newshole in July, 2007 to 3 percent last month.