Political Behavior

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 219–233

“Know-nothings” revisited again

  • Stephen Earl Bennett

DOI: 10.1007/BF01498600

Cite this article as:
Bennett, S.E. Polit Behav (1996) 18: 219. doi:10.1007/BF01498600


Analyses of the same NORC poll relied on by Hyman and Sheatsley and a 1994 poll for theTimes Mirror Center for The People & The Press show that sizable portions of the U.S. public were “know-nothings” on both occasions. OLS regressions on both polls show that, although there are slight differences, essentially the same factors affect knowledge of international politics in 1946 and 1994. At bottom, Americans tend to be uninformed about foreign affairs because they are inattentive to events abroad. If it is true, as some students of U.S. foreign policy claim, that public opinion has an important and growing impact on national security policy, widespread public ignorance recalls Lippmann's concern about the “democratic malady.”

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Earl Bennett
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of CincinnatiDayton

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