The Pew Research Center spent the last month collecting data on responses to its 12-question news quiz. And the results are, um, humbling for those of us who spend every day writing, talking and thinking about politics.
The overriding message? People don't know so much about current affairs with political tinge. Here are two examples.
1. The Senate
Presented with four options about the current partisan makeup of the Senate, roughly half (52 percent) got the answer right. (It's option number 4 above. Duh.)
Pretty good, right? Not so much. Consider that a straight-up guess would give you a 25 percent success rate since Pew provided four options for people to choose from. Given that, you'd (or maybe I'd) expect a lot more people to get it right. What did the 48 percent who got it wrong choose? One in five people (21 percent) said that Republicans controlled 61 seats while one in ten thought Democrats held the Senate majority (option #3). Six percent said the Senate was tied 50-50.
2. Elizabeth Warren
Again, roughly half (51 percent) of those who participated in the news quiz knew that Warren was the woman pictured on the lower left above. Ok, so, yes, Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin (top right) does look a little bit like Warren. But, Nancy Pelosi (bottom right but you already knew that) looks nothing like Warren. And, even if you have no idea who Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) is (top left), she still looks NOTHING like Warren.
Your average American got 8 out of 12 right (you can take the quiz here) with older Americans doing slightly better than Millennials. But after a midterm where only a third of voters bothered to even show up, why is Cillizza in any way shocked at these numbers? Americans have tuned out politics for the last several years, and the "both sides do it" and "view from nowhere" style of political reporting that carefully assigns blame and fault to all politicians rather than the ones who are actually responsible has achieved the desired effect of making Americans completely apathetic about political issues.
Cillizza wants to know why so many Americans are ignorant about basic politics?
They probably read The Fix.