Nationwide survey also reveals only 45% of adults would recognize their governor if they saw them in person.

BALTIMORE – Election season is in full swing as Donald Trump’s first term as president draws closer to an end. November 3, 2020 may bring perhaps a record turnout for voters at the polls, but let’s not forget there’s far more than just a presidential election that day. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be up for election, along with 33 seats in the U.S. Senate. Another 11 states will vote on their next governor. Which led us to wonder: with so much attention on the presidential campaign, how many Americans could actually name at least one of their local Congress members? Similarly, how many could name or even recognize their own governor?

According to a StudyFinds survey of 346 adults from across the nation, only about two in five (42%) say they know the name of at least one local member of Congress. And while most Americans (71%) can thankfully name the governor of their state, just 45% would actually recognize him or her if they saw their governor in person.

US Recognition of Local Politicians
US Recognition of Local Politicians (Full Image)

To be sure, StudyFinds surveyed an additional 105 Californians over 18 in a separate survey on how well they know their current governor, Gavin Newsom. The survey revealed similar results to the nationwide poll: 70% claimed they knew Newsom’s name, and 45% believe they’d recognize him in person.

Participants were also presented with the following images:

Kiefer Sutherland, Larry David, and Gavin Newsom

From left to right, the first is Kiefer Sutherland, who plays the president on the television show Designated Survivor. The second is Larry David, creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. If you are not from California, it’s understandable that you might not recognize the last photo, which shows Governor Newsom.

As it turned out, just a third of Californians knew that Newsom was pictured in the third image. On the other hand, slightly more (35%) recognized David, while 40% knew Sutherland was shown in the first photo.

Californians Recognize Actors More Than Governor
Californians Recognize Actors More Than Governor (Full Image)

In the survey of the broader United States population, age and gender seemed to play a role in how well participants knew their governor or local members of Congress. The youngest group of respondents (ages 18-29) and females, were notably less likely than the overall population to recognize their local politicians.

American Recognition of Local Politicians by Age Group
American Recognition of Local Politicians by Age Group (Full Image)
American Recognition of Local Politicians by Gender
American Recognition of Local Politicians by Gender (Full Image)

When it came to political party, both Democrats and Republicans had similar awareness of their state governor. Independents lagged significantly in identifying the governor or a local congress member.

American Recognition of Local Politicians by Party Affiliation
American Recognition of Local Politicians by Party Affiliation (Full Image)

As the 2020 elections approach, interest in the national political landscape continues to grow. But how informed are your fellow Americans on the local politics that may have a larger impact on your daily activities? How well would your state fare if simply asked to identify your governor?

About Study Finds

Study Finds sets out to find new research that speaks to mass audiences — without all the scientific jargon. Study Finds has been writing and publishing articles since 2016.

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink


Chris Melore


Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor