Survey: Only 1 in 4 Americans Can Name the 3 Branches of Government

Participants carry an American flag during the 4th of July parade in Santa Monica, Calif. on Tuesday, July 4, 2017. Decked out in red, white and blue, Californians waved flags and sang patriotic songs at Independence Day parades across the state. Americans (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
AP Photo/Richard Vogel

Only one-fourth of Americans could name the three branches of government in the U.S., according to a survey released this month.

The Annenberg Center for Public Policy (APPC) at the University of Pennsylvania’s yearly Constitution Day Civics Survey found that only 26 percent of Americans could name the legislative, executive, and judicial branches that make up the federal government.

APPC researchers found that conservatives were more likely than liberals or moderates to know all three branches, but the overall percentage of people who can name all three branches fell by 12 percent since 2011.

“Protecting the rights guaranteed by the Constitution presupposes that we know what they are. The fact that many don’t is worrisome,” says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the APPC, in a press release. “These results emphasize the need for high-quality civics education in the schools and for press reporting that underscores the existence of constitutional protections.”

Even though not many Americans can name the three branches of government, the majority of Americans do not trust the legislative branch of government. A Marist/NPR poll found that 68 percent of American adults say they do not trust Congress “very much” or “at all.”


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