Despite all the attention paid to the 60th vote in the U.S. Senate, very few Americans seem to know what the hullabaloo is about. Only 26% correctly say that it requires 60 votes to break a filibuster in the Senate, and therefore bring a bill to the floor so it can be voted on. Roughly as many Americans (25%) believe it requires only a majority (51) while 12% think it takes 67 (7%) or 75 (5%) Senate votes. Fully 37% offered that they did not know. Neither side of the political divide scores well on the filibuster question; just 30% of Republicans and 25% of Democrats are knowledgeable about the 60-vote rule. This may be because most Americans, despite reporting interest in the health care debate, aren’t following the votes all that closely. Just a third (32%) of Americans know that no Republicans voted for health care reform in the Senate. A similar percentage thought the bill had more GOP support; 13% said 5 Republicans had voted for reform and a respective 8% said the bill got 10 or 20 GOP votes. Read More

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