In our guide to the day's polls and why they matter, it's a tired trope to complain that most Americans don't know anything about anything -- even Jay Leno likes to ambush unsuspecting pedestrians with gotcha news questions -- but a new survey shows while most voters don't know much about the Republican candidates , it's women voters who are distinctly clueless.
Findings: Only 45 percent of women in the relatively-knowledgable subgroup of Tea Party Republicans know that Mitt Romney was the governor of Massachusetts. (Perhaps they would have gotten a better response if they used "Taxachussetts" in the question.) Among all female registered voters, only 42 percent know that. Only 35 percent of female registered voters know that South Carolina hosts the next primary, and only 34 percent know that Ron Paul is the candidate that wants to leave Afghanistan ASAP. By contrast, among male Tea Partiers, 72 percent know where Romney was governor, and among all male registered voters, 66 percent know that. And 56 percent of male registered voters know that Paul wants out of the war.
Pollster: Pew Research Center
Methodology: Interviews of 1,507 adults, 1,165 of them registered voters, 549 Republican or leaning that way, conducted January 4 though January 8.
Why it matters: While we've known for a while that voters often don't know basic facts about the candidates, it's ladies, especially, who need to get their acts together. This poll is not an outlier: many, many past Pew polls testing public knowledge have found the same thing. In January 2010, Pew found that 70 percent of men knew that China holds the most U.S. debt (not too bad, guys!) while only 49 percent of women knew that. Men beat women on every question, from what the unemployment rate was (men won by 14 percentage points) to where the then-hot issue of the Underwear Bomber was trained (a 14 point spread for the dudes again). Let's not forget that women have been pwning men in college attentions for some time now. Female bloggers are always asking why there aren't more women journalists, especially covering politics. Here's your answer: Because enough women aren't reading the news and thinking, "I could do that."
Caveat: Maybe all the knowledgable women voters were just too busy with work-life balance to answer the phone when the pollster called.
Findings: Newt Gingrich is a close second to Mitt Romney in South Carolina, getting 25 percent to the frontrunner's 29 percent. Ron Paul is in third with 20 percent.
Pollster: American Research Group
Methodology: Robo-calls to 600 likely Republican covers January 11 and January 12.
Why it matters: Conservative officials might be mad at Gingrich for his populist attacks on Romney's business career, but it doesn't appear Republican voters are (yet?). The poll shows Gingrich's strength is with evangelicals and Tea Partiers.
Caveat: Robo-polls aren't always the most accurate. A robo-polling competitor, the right-leaning Rasmussen, finds that Gingrich is a bit further behind, with 21 percent to Romney's 28 percent.
Findings: More people disapprove of President Obama's job performance than approve by 5 percentage points.
Pollster: Rasmussen; Democracy Corps
Methodology: Robo-calls to 500 likely voters over the previous three days; interviews with 1,000 likely voters from January 8 to January 11.
Why it matters: Both the right-leaning Rasmussen and the Democratic Democracy Corps show that Obama's still underwater on his approval rating (though they show different numbers: 47 percent approve to 52 percent disapprove for Rasmussen, 44 percent to 49 percent for Democracy Corps.) And yet, a new Gallup poll shows that slightly more Americans want Obama to set the country's agenda than congressional Republicans. The poll shows 46 percent want Obama to have more influence over America's direction, while 42 percent want Republicans to have more influence.
Caveat: Gallup's tracking polls shows it much closer: 45 percent approve to 46 percent disapprove.