Americans’ civics knowledge increases during a stress-filled year

A growing number of Americans can name the branches of government and the freedoms under the First Amendment, though many still misunderstand basic facts about how government works, according to the 2021 Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey.

Chart showing the percentage of people who can name the three branches of U.S. government.
Image: Annenberg Public Policy Center

The Annenberg Public Policy Center’s annual survey follows increased media coverage of the powers, functions, and prerogatives of the three branches in a year marked by an impeachment proceeding, a pandemic, a disputed election and unsuccessful efforts to overturn the results in the courts, an attempt to disrupt congressional certification of the electoral vote, protests over racial injustice and COVID-19 restrictions, and Supreme Court rulings on hotly debated issues like the Affordable Care Act.

Highlights from this year’s survey include U.S. adults who correctly named all three branches of government increased to 56%, the highest since the survey began in 2006, and more respondents named most of the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment—and three-quarters (74%) cited freedom of speech. More than half of Americans (61%) incorrectly said Facebook is required to permit all Americans to express themselves freely on Facebook under the First Amendment.

Read more at the Annenberg Public Policy Center.