The fertile ground in which the tea party plows

It’s probably not surprising given the ever-growing prominence of Fox News as the information source of choice for so many Americans, but some of these new poll results on what average Americans think or believe continue to be remarkably disheartening.

For instance, according to a new poll only 28% could identify John Roberts as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This is from the Pew Research Center‘s “Daily Number”:

8% – Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall?

Asked to name the current chief justice of the Supreme Court, and given four possible names, nearly one-in-ten Americans (8%) choose Thurgood Marshall, despite the fact that Justice Marshall left the Supreme Court roughly 20 years ago, and passed away in 1993. In fact, very few Americans can name the current chief justice in a Pew Research news quiz; just 28% were able to correctly identify John Roberts. Another 6% thought the recently retired Justice John Paul Stevens was chief justice, while 4% named Sen. Harry Reid. A majority (53%) admitted that they did not know the answer. Americans have not always been so unknowledgeable about the Supreme Court. In November 1986, 43% correctly identified William Rehnquist as the chief justice, though 29% chose his predecessor, Warren Burger. And, in a January 2010 Pew Research news quiz, a majority (56%) correctly answered that more than one woman sat on the Supreme Court. Read more.”

No word yet on what percentage of Americans think Roberts is a Muslim.




  1. Rob Schofield

    September 3, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Here’s another amazing nugget from the same poll:

    When asked who the government bailout of banks and financial institutions (akaTARP) was passed and signed into law under,

    34% said Bush,
    47% said Obama, and
    19% said they didn’’t know or refuse to answer.

    TARP, of course, was signed into law in October of 2008.

  2. Jack

    September 3, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Probably a result of our dumbed- down public education system !

  3. Howard Garten

    September 3, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Not surprising since many folks are crazy enough to think we can spend our way out of the recession. My wife has been trying to spend us into wealth for years , and it hasn’t worked yet.

  4. Michael

    September 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    You gotta love it when the comments prove the point of the post.

  5. Alex Morris

    September 3, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. 20% of our high school seniors are functionally illiterate in this country Why have we not held the public schools accountable for these lousy results ? It should be a national embarrassment for the amount of money we spend on education.

  6. Jeff Shaw

    September 3, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    If it’s the public school system, how come right-wingers consistently do worse on questions about basic news facts?


    The answer is that this trend isn’t about the school system at all. It’s about a constant stream of well-funded disinformation campaigns.

  7. Alex Morris

    September 3, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    I’m so glad to hear about this huge disinformation conspiracy going on right under our nose ! Does anyone else know ?

  8. Jeff Shaw

    September 3, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Look, somebody wants gullible people to believe the President is a Muslim (or wasn’t born in this country) and it isn’t the public schools. It’s not a “conspiracy” so much as an “strategy.”

  9. Alex

    September 7, 2010 at 7:14 am

    It is a sad commentary on this country when 20% of the population is illiterate, and probably should not even be voting. It is probably a larger percentage who read absolutely nothing including newspapers and books, and only vote for a candidate who is promising some form of government assistance. This mentality will eventually destroy us.

  10. Alex

    September 7, 2010 at 7:36 am


    Everyone should read this article about improving the public school system.

  11. Ronny Calling

    September 19, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Democrats? Republicans? Tea Party members? They are not going to change a thing. Who is going to make a really change in the US policy? In your debt payments. How about jobs. Are wars going to invrease and pay it? Have you haver seen a US nuclear submarine kill a single what you call “terrorist”.
    Your grand grand grand childrens still will be paying your debts, may be away in 2050, or 2080. Look for new commercial bubbles
    Let’s start spare. Lokk how much your wastes are. Millions are dying, because the US wars and spendings in guns opressing. countries with thousand of years of their own way of life. Million of tons of food are wasted because of your american way of life.
    How is Iraq today? No government leaders, no houses, no schools, no electricity, a devastated country. Is that the kind of “democracy” what you are going to export through your military empire invasion forces, to the world?

    WAKE UP !

Check Also

This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. Free speech policy, controversial conservative academic on ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

The UNC Board of Governors is holding its last meeting of 2017 Friday, where the latest of its many [...]

Just south of Candler off the Pisgah Highway is a lovely piece of property on Little Piney Mountain [...]

Veteran North Carolina education policy expert Kris Nordstrom has authored a new and vitally importa [...]

When Joni Robbins, a section chief in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, closes bidding next [...]

“All speech is free, but some speech is more free than others.” This seems to be the motto of the cu [...]

Trumpists prepare to raze another vital common good law It’s hard to keep up these days with the flo [...]

The post That’s how ‘Humbug’ is done appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

The solid citizens of Johnston County, N.C. – in a fateful quirk of geography – for several years ha [...]

Featured | Special Projects

NC Budget 2017
The maze of the NC Budget is complex. Follow the stories to follow the money.
Read more

NC Redistricting 2017
New map, new districts, new lawmakers. Here’s what you need to know about gerrymandering in NC.
Read more