scorecardresearch Skip to main content

How many people know their senators?

Our knowledge of history and present-day politics is sadly poor.

How's your history knowledge? Not good, not good at all, according to a September 2014 Annenberg survey from the University of Pennsylvania of 1,416 adults, as well as other surveys of our social studies studiousness.

> 36% of those surveyed could name all three branches of government; 35% couldn't name a single one

> 27% know that it takes a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to override a presidential veto

> 21% think that a 5-4 Supreme Court decision is sent back to Congress to be reconsidered

> When asked which party holds the majority in the House of Representatives, 38% correctly said Republicans, 17% said Democrats, and 44% said that they didn't know.


> When asked which party has the majority in the Senate, 38% correctly said Democrats, 20% said Republicans, and 42% said they didn't know.

> The Benenson Strategy Group in Washington, D.C., surveyed 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 34 and found that while 91% of those surveyed claimed they were likely to vote in the next presidential election, 77% could not name one of their state senators.


> In a 2014 Gallup Poll, Congress had an 18.6% approval rating and 72.2% disapproval rating, with the remainder unaccounted for.

> In the same Gallup Poll ranking 16 institutions in American society, Congress came in last, while just 7% of responders said they had much confidence in it.

> A 2015 survey by the Pew Research Center revealed that 10% of the American public is politically disengaged and classified by Pew as "political bystanders." Of those surveyed and found to be political bystanders, none have reported registering to vote.


In January, Arizona became the first state mandating high school students must pass a comprehensive civics test to receive a diploma. The test, which is the same exam administered to incoming immigrants, has 100 questions relating to US history and politics.


While immigrants are given 10 questions to answer from the bank of 100 and must answer six correctly to gain legal status, students are given all 100 questions and must answer 60 correctly to pass the test.

Sample question

Name one state that borders Mexico: Florida, California, Utah, Ohio.