The Ninth Annual Constitution Day Survey from ConstitutionFacts.com
2015 Constitution Day Survey Results
Oak Hill Publishing (Constitution Day 2015): During the past year more than 100,000 people took the ConstitutionFacts.com online poll. The 10-question quiz tests knowledge about the Constitution and Constitution history. Upon completion of the quiz and before receiving their scores, participants were asked to provide demographic details about themselves. Quiz takers then had the opportunity to share their scores via Facebook or email and to take a more extensive 50-question quiz. More than 35% of quiz takers tested their knowledge with the longer U.S. Constitution quiz.
Results by State & Region
Chart 1 shows the ten states with the highest percentage of perfect scores. California tops the list this year with 16.43% of test takers achieving perfect scores. Rounding out the top five — Texas 15.43%, New York 14.90%, Illinois 13.81% and Virginia 13.20%. California has been among the top scoring states every year since the annual poll began.
Chart 2 shows the states with the highest average score. California remains in the top spot this year with an average score of 7.01 (.32 higher than 2014) while Connecticut, Louisiana and Colorado move into the top ten at #5, #9 and #10, respectively, with an average score of 6.50, 6.01 and 5.99 correct. Vermont, Virginia and Washington, D.C. fell out of the top ten this year.
Results are also reported by region using the regions defined by the U.S. Census Bureau (see chart 3). The highest scoring region was the Pacific region which includes AK, CA, HI, OR, WA. It excludes two of the highest scoring states — Texas (West South Central Region) and New York (Middle Atlantic Region).
In past years the Pacific region (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA) has been in the middle of the pack although California is a perennial high scoring state, the same with the Middle Atlantic region (NY, NJ, PA) in spite of New York’s consistently high results. The New England region (CT, VT, NH, ME, MA, RI) — a high scorer in years past — moved from fifth to fourth place this year.
Knowledge about the Bill of Rights — the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution — remains one of the highest scoring areas of knowledge about the Constitution. The two highest scoring questions on the 10-question quiz (questions #3 and #5) are both about the Bill of Rights (see chart 4). And the five questions about the Bill of Rights in the 50-question quiz also were among the highest scoring questions (four out of five were answered correctly more than 70% of the time and all were answered correctly over 65% of the time).
The average age of test-takers was twenty-three. 50% were male, 50% were female. In past years, participants over 51 and between ages 36 and 50 scored almost the same, with participants between ages 18 and 35 scoring slightly lower and participants 17 and under scoring lowest. This year participants between ages 36 and 50 have edged farther ahead than participants over age 51 (see chart 5).
Common Misconceptions about the Constitution
While knowledge of the Bill of Rights remains high,
other areas of Constitution knowledge are much
less consistent. In particular, many of the questions
that were answered correctly least often concerned
the powers of the federal government. The fewest
people were able to answer question #9 correctly,
"What kind of laws can Congress make?" The correct answer is: "Any laws that are necessary and proper
for executing the powers of the federal government."
This answer comes directly from Article I, Section 8
of the Constitution. The final clause of that section
says that Congress has the power "to make all Laws
which shall be necessary and proper for carrying
into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other
Powers vested by this Constitution in the
Government of the United States, or in any
Department or Officer thereof." This clause is
sometimes called the “elastic clause” because it
gives Congress the flexibility to make laws not
described specifically in the Constitution.
Question #34 of the 50-question quiz “Which Article
of the Constitution lists the primary powers of
Congress?” was among the lowest scoring questions
(answered correctly only 37% of the time). The
correct answer is A: “Article 1” which describes
the Legislative Branch, including both houses of
Congress and all of their powers. Other low-scoring
questions regarding the current powers of the
federal government as defined by the Constitution
included question #50 about the number of votes
required to pass a Constitutional Amendment
(answered correctly only 34% of the time), question
#39 asking the number of Supreme Court Justices
required by the Constitution (answered correctly
only 38% of the time), and question #32 about the
so-called “supremacy clause” of the Constitution
which establishes the supremacy of federal laws
over conflicting state or local laws (answered
correctly only 39% of the time).
The correct answers to these three questions are
- Three quarters of the states must approve a
Constitutional Amendment. Three quarters of
50 states is 37.5, so 37 states cannot approve an
Amendment but 38 can.
- The Constitution does not establish the number
of Supreme Court justices. Instead, the Constitution
gives Congress the power to determine the number
- The "Supremacy Clause" of the Constitution states
that any state or local law that directly conflicts with
a valid federal law is void.
- The Supremacy Clause is the common name given
to Article VI, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. It
declares that the "Constitution, and the Laws of the
United States . . . shall be the supreme Law of
2015 Constitution Day Survey Results
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