Americans’ Knowledge of the U.S. Supreme Court
34 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2016
Date Written: July 30, 2016
Recent and influential research suggests that political scientists have sharply understated popular knowledge of the U.S. Supreme Court. This research implies that popular knowledge of other aspects of government has been understated as well. The implication may be correct. But these revisionist studies of political knowledge err in the other direction: they overstate popular knowledge of politics. Focusing on the Supreme Court, we use a series of national-sample experiments to show that inferences about popular knowledge of politics depend heavily on little-appreciated aspects of survey design and analysis. Accounting for these aspects of design and analysis suggests a level of knowledge in the polity that lies between the levels suggested by conventional and revisionist research.
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