Only 36 Percent of Americans Can Name the Three Branches of Government

Reid Wilson, Washington Post, September 18, 2014

Wednesday marked national Constitution Day, the 227th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. But only 36 percent of Americans can actually name the three branches of government the Constitution created.

That’s according to a new survey from the Annenberg Public Policy Center, and it shows a huge percentage of Americans might need to take a civics refresher course.

Only 38 percent of Americans knew the Republican Party controls the U.S. House of Representatives, while 17 percent think Democrats are still in charge. {snip}


Annenberg released the survey in partnership with the Civics Renewal Network, a group of 25 nonpartisan organizations including the Library of Congress, the Newseum and the National Archives that offers free civics education resources.

Other groups, like the Civics Education Initiative, are pushing to include more civics education in high schools by requiring students to pass the same citizenship test that immigrants do when they come to the U.S. {snip}

They cited Annenberg’s 2011 survey, which found just 15 percent of Americans could correctly identify the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, while 27 percent knew Randy Jackson was a judge on American Idol. {snip}


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  • JackKrak

    Sounds about right. I’d guess that only about a third of the people in the U.S. are real Americans who feel some obligation to keep up with such minor details as who’s flushing billions of dollars a day down the federal toilet.

    • Alexandra1973

      I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure which party was in charge of Congress…but then again, it really doesn’t make any difference when you get down to it.

  • none of your business

    Gee, and after 12 years of social studies in the puhlick skoo system. I’m sure common c**p will cure all this. BTW, a lot of California school districts are now requiring home schoolers to use common c**p if their kids want a diploma.
    But everyone knows that Whites are the representatives of Satan on Earth and responsible for every ill the world has ever known and so it will be until the end of time.

    • antiquesunlight

      I was just telling my sister that I bet it’s a matter of time before they force that garbage on homeschoolers. I sure hope Georgia never requires homeschoolers to use CC. My nephews are homeschooled and they were doing brilliantly, would consistently score above their grade level. Then my sister unwittingly bought a CC math book and they immediately started having a really hard time with math. She found something different in a hurry and now they are doing great again.

    • TXCriollo

      My grandmother taught at an innercity school in the 1980s and told me most blacks are socially promoted. Dont suprise me one bit

  • You see, I keep reading these kinds of stories so often that I wonder if things were ever really “better” in that regard. Has it ever been the case where significantly more than 36% of people could name the three branches of government? If you did this same survey in 1955, would you have expected more than 15% of the people to know that Earl Warren was the Chief Justice of SCOTUS? I don’t think anywhere near a majority of people at any one time can get the party control of the chambers of Federal Congress correct.

    But if you did that same survey back in 1955, most people could tell you who hosted the popular game show of the time, Twenty-One, and who won the major league baseball batting average title that season.

    • phorning

      I would be curious to see results of a civic literacy survey from the 1950s, but couldn’t find anything with a quick search online. My guess is the percentages would be significantly higher than they are now. Entertainment options were much more limited than they are today even with the number of homes that bought TVs during the 50s.

    • MBlanc46

      Definitely a good question. When I was a schoolboy, you couldn’t graduate from eighth grade without having passed an exam on the federal and state constitutions. I don’t believe that there was anyone in my class who failed. But that was an all-white, mostly middle class (with more than a few students whose fathers worked at Argonne Lab) school. In those days we didn’t worry too much about what blacks knew or didn’t know, but it’s unlikely that many of them had much of an idea about the structure of government. Still, 36% seems like a pretty low number for 1960.

      • Jacobite2

        I’d forget about education. No matter how much history is taught, no matter how true, and no matter how pro-American, it will never make an American out of someone who isn’t already one. You are born into your society in the same way you’re born into your immediate family, period.

  • me

    The dumbing down of the populace by the Frankfurt School, the mainstream media, the globalist commies, and the ‘government’. Hey, they pulled it off! Kudos to the globalist weasels!

    • propagandaoftruth

      Da “gibs”, da “me”, an da “dat”.

      Spell “GUBBAMINT”.

    • Atheist Realist

      ever heard of the 20/80 society? I think it has to do with an ever increasing amount of surplus (ie unemployable) americans who have nothing else to do except bread and circuses.

      • me

        Just like before the fall of the Roman Empire. When do the gladiator games begin? I’m sure they’ll feed White Christians to the lions, just like the ‘good old days’.

  • Alexandra1973

    Executive, legislative, and judicial–and this was without having read the article.

    BTW I don’t watch American Idol and I don’t even know who’s on it. Nor do I care.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    These are the same people who think, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” are the first words of the U.S. Constitution.

    And why not? That’s what they’re being taught in the public schools. The government schools have done their job as designed and intended.

    Students know nothing of liberty, but know all about slavery, Jim Crow laws, homosexual rights, feminism, White oppression and the joys of socialism.

    What’s not to love when everything is provided for you by someone else and all your failures can be blamed on racist Whites.

    • WR_the_realist

      The last time our public high schools taught students about the Constitution was in the 1950s. Now the only thing students are taught about this nation’s founders is that they were slaveholders.

  • evilsandmich

    Let’s see that racial breakout. I’ve also heard anecdotal evidence in the past of these surveyors calling smart asses (such as myself) and getting bogus answers just to game the results.

  • When I posted this item on my site last week, I recall telling the story of one smart, white female student that I had a good relationship with, breezing into my faculty office with an angry, frustrated look on her face. “What the bleep is Congress?” That bleep was the eff word, which college students, including cute females, use like drunken sailors.

    I explained it was the Senate and the House and how it all worked to her, in approximate terms. She was a big fan of Marilyn Manson, if that helps explain her ignorance of government. The frightening thing is that SHE VOTED!!!

    • IstvanIN

      The constant use of the “F” word saddens me since it just one more proof of how low we have sunk as a society. I can proudly say that I rarely take the Lord’s name in vain or curse. On the very rare occasion I do blurt out a curse people are shocked and immediately ask what is wrong. Once my buddy and I were on the turnpike, he was driving, some lunatic almost hit us and I let out a stream of profanities. He just started laughing because he said I looked so unnatural using that sort of language.

      We have become a nation of lowlifes.

      • I don’t use taboo words in everyday life, but I do use them in my writing on my website. They’re used to create a state of mind in the reader. I want them to see me as a reasonable person who gets angry at the injustices directed toward white people by government and the power elites. Most of the time I put an asterisk in for a vowel, but not always. I used the uncensored N-word to describe the black wanted in connection with college girl Hannah Graham’s disappearance. She’s certainly been raped and murdered by the animal and I felt no guilt or distress at using the word to describe him.

      • Alexandra1973

        Anyone cusses in front of my son, they’re treated to an “if looks could kill” glare from me.

        Thankfully he knows there are words he shouldn’t say (remember he’s on the autism spectrum) and he won’t say them. At least not in front of me.

    • Jacobite2

      I was ranting about internet censorship on other sites. My Comment was HERE. Very strange.

    • WR_the_realist

      I’ll bet my house that she not only voted, but voted Democratic.

  • tancred guiscard

    I can name the three, but i cant tell which is the most powerful or most publicly representative. Either way, i have little faith in any of them:( . Ive been considering the northwest a plausable place of relocation, but the more i learn, canada or australia come to mind.Unless,of course, im intoxicated. Then its south africa, all the way!

    • IstvanIN

      Most powerful are the courts, followed by the president. Our Congress (both houses) have about as much authority as the UK’s House of Lords.

  • John R

    “I….can’t name ’em, bud, I dun rite cursive…” LOL.

  • willbest

    You know what would solve so many problems. If once a decade you had to go in and pass the 8th grade constitution test administered in written English (unless you are legally blind) in order to obtain the right to vote.

    • WR_the_realist

      That would have disparate impact.

      The most pernicious legal philosophy ever promulgated is that there is something wrong with disparate impact.

  • Augustus3709

    Oh that’s easy: Leftists, Communists, and Bolsheviks.

  • 48224

    But most Americans can name at least one of Kim Kartrashian’s 3 black husbands! What a country!

    • Alexandra1973

      I thought she only had two, and I was pretty sure Kanye West is one of them. LOL

      I’m sure you can guess that I don’t pay that much attention to Hollywood weirdos.

      • 48224

        This is her third black husband. She was married at 19….I think for few months to some unknown black, rapper wanna-be.

  • 4321realist

    “Only 36 Percent of Americans Can Name the Three Branches of Government”

    I had no idea the percentage was that high.

  • Anon Emus

    There’re are 3 branches: the executive branch, the executive branch, and the executive branch.

  • Roninf9

    End birthright citizenship. Anyone born here that wants to be a citizen should have to pass a civics test and a background check. If they fail they automatically become a legal resident. I suspect that most of the idiots that don’t know the 3 branches of government wouldn’t care one way or another if they were citizens or not.

  • WelshPatriot

    Looks like the dumbing down part of their plan is going swimmingly. I bet the majority of Americans don’t see this as a problem, and if this was the UK and most didn’t know who did what in government I can’t see many caring either. A very sad state of affairs.



    “…only 36 percent of Americans can actually name the three branches of government…”

    Those branches would be, let me see now, the liberal branch, the media branch, and the IRS branch. How did I do?