Poll: Majority of Americans Don't Know GOP Only Won the House

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) speaks on jobs and the economy at the City Club of Cleveland, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010. AP

In the recent Pew survey, only 46% of Americans were correct in knowing that the GOP only won the House in the recent elections. Just 38% correctly identified John Boehner (R-Ohio) as the incoming House Speaker.
AP

While most Americans can say that the Republicans were seen as "winning" in the recent midterm elections, a recent survey suggests they're fuzzy on the details.

Pew Research Center's latest News IQ poll out Thursday asked 1,001 Americans 13 multiple choice questions covering general current events. Two covered foreign affairs while 11 pertained to political, cultural and economic conditions in the United States.

The question about which Americans responded with the most accuracy was which oil company was responsible for last summer's spill in the Gulf Coast. Eighty-eight percent correctly identified BP.

At the low end of the scale, only 15 percent knew that the prime minister of Britain is David Cameron. Respondents were given four choices, among them former BP chief executive Tony Hayward, who was also identified as the prime minister by 15 percent of respondents.

Most Americans understood that Republicans gained power in the midterm elections (75 percent got that correct), but more specific questions seemed to stump many poll takers.

Fewer than half of those who took the poll knew that Republicans only gained control of the House, not both the House and Senate. And fewer than four in ten knew that Rep. John Boehner would be the newSpeaker of the House.

Americans also struggled with specifics when it came to economics questions. Seventy-seven percent knew that the federal budget deficit is now higher than it was in the 1990s. But just 14 percent of those surveyed knew that the current inflation rate in the United States was around one percent.

A previous Pew poll found that just 34 percent knew that the bank bailout (aka the Trouble Asset Relief Program) was enacted under the Bush administration. In this poll, only 16 percent knew that more than half of those loans have been paid back. An equivalent number stated, wrongly, that none of the money had yet been paid back to the government.

Republicans were more likely than Democrats to know that the current unemployment rate is roughly ten percent; 63 percent of Republicans said as much, compared to 48 percent of Democrats. Democrats were more likely to know that America spends more on defense than education, Medicare or interest on the debt; 42 percent of Democrats got that right, compared to 28 percent of Republicans.


  • Mary Dooe

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