Zogby released (some of) the results from a new pop culture knowledge poll yesterday. It included a couple of Supreme Court items:
When asked to name two of Snow White's Seven Dwarfs and two of the nine U.S. Supreme Court Justices, 77% of Americans polled were able to identify two dwarfs, while only 24% could name two Supreme Court Justices. Not surprisingly, Clarence Thomas, whose nomination was marked by controversy, was the most recognized Justice -- identified twice as often as his next best-known peer on the Supreme Court -- Antonin Scalia.
And the other one:
Surprisingly, despite record-breaking ratings, when asked who the newest American Idol is as of May 2006, only 23% of those polled named Taylor Hicks. Still, while that may seem low, it was double the percentage of those who recalled which Supreme Court Judge was confirmed in January 2006. Only 11% answered "Samuel Alito."
As best I can tell, Zogby has not posted the full results of this survey, but the press release is here. It contains additional results that may be interesting but that are not really ELS relevant, e.g., "Krypton was identified correctly by 60% of the respondents as Superman's planet of origin, while only 37% were able to name Mercury as the closest planet to the sun." (When the new movie came out a few months ago, I actually discussed this very question of how many people would be able to name Krypton as Superman's home planet with a friend of mine. Now, thankfully, there are data to resolve this question.)
My collection of previous name-the-justices poll results is here. I see that I still need to update it with a fourth poll from 1989; I had forgotten about it when I did the original post.
UPDATE: William Child at TortsProf points to a very nice analysis at the Language Log of how these public knowledge surveys can be spun by those who write press releases. A second Language Log post on the subject can be found here. Both posts focus on the First Amendment survey sponsored by the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum.