On September 17, we celebrated Constitution Day. It’s typically the day hundreds of thousands of people who’ve fulfilled the requirements for American citizenship are naturalized.
In 2013, nearly 780,000 people from around the world became naturalized American Citizens, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics. Among the requirements for citizenship are “knowledge of the U.S. government and history.”
Based on the results of a survey from the Annenberg Public Policy Center, however, many native-born Americans know less than their foreign-born fellow citizens. Among more than 1,400 adults the survey found that:
While little more than a third of respondents (36 percent) could name all three branches of the U.S. government, just as many (35 percent) could not name a single one.
Just over a quarter of Americans (27 percent) know it takes a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to override a presidential veto.
One in five Americans (21 percent) incorrectly thinks that a 5-4 Supreme Court decision is sent back to Congress for reconsideration. …
Asked which party has the most members in the House of Representatives, 38 percent said they knew the Republicans are the majority, but 17 percent responded the Democrats, and 44 percent reported that they did not know (up from 27 percent who said they did not know in 2011).
Asked which party controls the Senate, 38 percent correctly said the Democrats, 20 percent said the Republicans, and 42 percent said they did not know (also up from 27 percent who said they did not know in 2011).
In response to those findings, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center Kathleen Hall Jamieson said:
Although surveys reflect disapproval of the way Congress, the President and the Supreme Court are conducting their affairs, the Annenberg survey demonstrates that many know surprisingly little about these branches of government…This survey offers dramatic evidence of the need for more and better civics education.