One of the striking -- and critical to remember -- aspects of polling about the 2016 election is how relatively unknown the possible candidates are. When the Washington Post and ABC News asked for people to say how favorably they rated a group of Republican candidates, an average of nearly a third of respondents didn't know enough about the candidates to offer even a brief positive or negative opinion.
And those are the big-name candidates -- the Jeb Bushes and Scott Walkers. What about the lesser-known or even the only-slightly-lesser-known contenders?
Similar polls have tested their favorability and found sometimes less than half of people offer a thumbs up or thumbs down. But even then, it's a one-word response that could be based on next to nothing, besides their names. So do people actually really know anything about these candidates? For example, do they even know whether they are running for president?
Here's another way to look at it.
If you're paying somewhat close attention to 2016, you should be able to answer the following question fairly easily.
The proper response, of course, is to check all of the boxes except "None of the above." All six of those people are currently running for their party's nomination for the presidency and have been since we put this question in front of 800 people using Google's (admittedly non-random) consumer survey tool. (You know how sometimes you go to a local news site and you have to fill out a survey to continue? This was one of those.)
Among those 800 people, the most common response was not that all six were running. In fact, that was the second least common response. The most common response? "None of the above."
Again, this is not a traditional random sample poll. Only about a fifth of the people who saw the survey actually filled it out. Even the broader population might not represent America at large, since not every person had a change to to take the surveys at all. According to Google, men, young people and Midwesterners were over-represented in the sample -- but that's according to Google's estimates of who the respondents are. In other words, there is a lot of cloudy gray area here.
With all of those caveats in place, the fact remains: Only 7 percent of the respondents got the answer right.
The candidate most commonly selected as running was Rick Santorum, followed by Bobby Jindal. (The survey went live on the evening of Jindal's announcement last week.) Least likely to be identified as running? George Pataki, followed by Martin O'Malley. (The candidates' names were presented in random order.)
That shows all of the times a candidate was selected, by him- or herself or with other candidates. So only about a third of all respondents said Rick Santorum was running at all. If people only identified one person as running, that person was most commonly Santorum. If they picked five people as running, the most common person to leave out was Pataki. Clearly part of this is name recognition.
Picking five people as running, as the first graph shows, was the least-common response. That's because people were more likely to pick fewer candidates as running, but a small group knew that all six were actually declared.
There is an obvious split in the types of response between those who answered more slowly or more quickly than the median. People who answered faster were much more likely to say "none of the above," perhaps because they saw an easy out to end the survey and move on to whatever else they actually wanted to see. Those who answered more slowly were more likely to get the answer correct.
Even among the slower group, "none of the above" was the most common answer, and only 11 percent got the question right.
But even with any questions about methodology, what would you expect? The Republican field will soon hit 16 people, many of them who have spent very little time on the national stage. You, as someone who reached the very end of an article about familiarity with 2016 candidates (hello!) are not a normal person. (The guy who created a survey to test this -- that is, me -- is far less normal, to be sure.) If 48 percent of Americans have no opinion on Scott Walker, leading in Iowa and subject of one of the most contentious disagreements in the country over the past few years, what are the odds that they know Carly Fiorina has thrown her hat into the ring?
Well, I suppose we now have something of an answer.