Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Supreme Who?

Two-thirds of Americans can't name a member of the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a survey reported, among other places, here.

You'd think after the big Obamacare decision people could do better, but apparently not.  I've written a lot about what people know about the Supreme Court and I don't want to dig into that today, but there are some methodological issues, at least in the past, with how the questions were asked and the responses coded. 

The problem here is I can't easily track down much of the methodology, other than it was a national survey of 1,000 respondents.  My guess?  It's an open-ended question and those generally produce meager results anyway, at least compared to close-ended (multiple choice) questions.  Plus folks who get their news mostly from TV do a terrible job at open-ended questions (or so says a certain brilliant manuscript now under review at a major academic journal).

So only 34 percent could name a justice, and among those the winner is Roberts and the loser is Breyer.  See below.

  • John Roberts – 20%
  • Antonin Scalia – 16%
  • Clarence Thomas – 16%
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg – 13%
  • Sonia Sotomayor – 13%
  • Anthony Kennedy – 10%
  • Samuel Alito – 5%
  • Elena Kagan – 4%
  • Stephen Breyer – 3%

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