Congress vs. Facebook
— Just 21 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 can correctly identify John Boehner (R-Ohio) as the speaker of the House of Representatives, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center released Friday. By comparison, 63 percent of young adults can name Mark Zuckerberg as the founder of Facebook. To be fair, respondents were able to pick Zuckerberg out of a list including Apple’s Steve Jobs, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Daily Show host Jon Stewart, while the poll required respondents to name Boehner as speaker with no prompts. Nevertheless, Boehner is more than twice as well-known among the public overall – 43 percent – than he is among young adults.
Why is Boehner unknown to 79 percent of young Americans? Young people, on average, have lower levels of education, are more likely to identify with the Democratic Party and are generally less interested in politics — all of which are linked to lower levels of political knowledge generally and, at least for education and partisanship, knowledge of Boehner in particular. Wide awareness of Zuckerberg among young people may be due to the fact that 86 percent of Internet users ages 18-29 use social networking sites, according to a 2010 survey by Pew Research’s Internet & American Life Project.
Obama approval up in May
Gallup, CNN and Fox News find President Obama’s approval rating up in May compared with April after the killing of Osama bin Laden. Approval of the president rose from 48 to 54 percent in CNN data. He is up to 55 percent approval among registered voters in Fox polling in mid-May from 47 percent in late April. And while Gallup currently finds the public split 46 to 45 percent in approval vs. disapproval, the average approval following bin Laden’s death on May 1 is up roughly 6 percentage points from early April.
Gallup also reported on Wednesday that Obama’s approval rating hit 53 percent, his highest since February 2010. While the fresh poll numbers for overall approval are no doubt good news for Obama’s re-election hopes, CNN finds that ratings of his handling of the economy — seen as far and away as the most important problem facing the nation — are unmoved, and a majority disapproves of Obama’s performance. As the Post’s Dan Balz noted this weekend, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney plans “a message singularly focused on what he sees as President Obama’s greatest area of vulnerability: jobs and the economy.”