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Elon Poll: Men, Republicans more knowledgeable on politics

Most North Carolinians know that Raleigh is their capital city and that Beverly Perdue is their governor, but according to the latest Elon University Poll, fewer than 1 in 5 state residents can correctly name Roy Cooper as their state attorney general, and barely a third could correctly identify both sitting United States senators.

The poll, conducted Oct. 24-27, 2010, surveyed 515 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. The sample is of the population in general, with numbers that include both landlines and cellular phones. The Elon University Poll does not restrict respondents by voter eligibility or likelihood of voting.

Ten questions were asked to measure political knowledge among North Carolina residents. (See the full list of questions starting on Page 4 of the Poll Methodology document.)

“Compared to similar political knowledge tests, North Carolinians fared well in their knowledge of politics and current political events,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. “There are also definite political knowledge differences across party identification. Across all the questions, Republicans prove more proficient in their knowledge of politics and political events.”

In general, older North Carolinians – 55 and up – scored better than their younger counterparts on nearly every question.

Older respondents correctly answered that Democrats controlled the North Carolina House of Representatives (62 percent, versus 53 percent for the 35-54 age group and 43 percent for the 18-34 age group); that North Carolina’s governor serves a four-year term (78 percent, versus 65 percent for the 35-54 age group and 60 percent for the 18-34 age group); and that Rep. Nancy Pelosi is the speaker of the United States House of Representatives (67 percent, versus 57 percent for the 35-54 age group and 47 percent for the 18-34 age group).

A greater percentage of men than women correctly answered every question asked.

Men knew that Democrats controlled the state House of Representatives (61 percent versus 45 percent); that the Supreme Court is responsible for determining the constitutionality of a law (83 percent versus 69 percent); and that the initials “SBI” stood for “State Bureau of Investigation” (69 percent versus 57 percent).

A greater percentage of Republicans, compared to either Democrats or Independents, correctly identified each question.

The biggest difference was in awareness of who controls the state House of Representatives (68 percent, versus 50 percent for Independents / 45 percent for Democrats); that Pelosi is speaker of the U.S. House (71 percent, versus 55 percent for Independents / 50 percent for Democrats); and that the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of laws (87 percent, versus 70 percent for Independents / 73 percent for Democrats).