Comedy Central’s fake newscaster and comical blowhard, Stephen Colbert, is correctly identified as a comedian and TV host by 41% of Americans. A majority of the public (51%) is clueless about Colbert, while 7% believe he is a congressman and 1% thought he was an Olympic athlete. Still, Colbert is as well or better known among Americans as other political actors who aren’t purposely playing a character on TV. Just 39% are able to identify Harry Reid as the majority leader of the Senate and only a third (32%) can name Michael Steele as the chairman of the RNC. Colbert’s following among younger Americans is clear. In the political knowledge survey, the question about the political satirist was the only one in which younger Americans outperformed the rest of the country. Close to half of those ages 18 to 29 can identify Colbert, compared with 40% of adults ages 30 to 49 and 38% of those ages 50 and older. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.