On a 12-question news IQ quiz, the public gets a failing grade. Asked 12 questions on subjects ranging from economics and foreign affairs to prominent people in the news, the average American answered 5.3 questions correctly. The public especially struggled with political questions (very few knew what it takes to break a filibuster in the Senate or could name the chairman of the RNC), but a majority did know the correct answer to five of the questions including that there is more than one woman on the Supreme Court (56%) and that China holds the most U.S. debt (59%). This knowledge quiz proved harder than a news quiz from roughly a year ago. Only 42% of Americans answered at least six questions correctly in the January 2010 quiz, while 71% answered at least half the questions correctly in March 2009. Men (average 6.0 correct answers) scored better than women (4.6). Older Americans (5.9) did better than younger adults (3.8). And Republicans (5.9) did better than independents (5.6) and Democrats (4.9). Read More

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