Measuring Voters' Knowledge of Political News

50 Pages Posted: 20 May 2020 Last revised: 11 Aug 2020

See all articles by Charles Angelucci

Charles Angelucci

MIT Sloan

Andrea Prat

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: August 1, 2020


We propose a methodology to measure knowledge of news about recent political events that combines a protocol for identifying stories, a quiz to elicit knowledge, and the estimation of a model of individual knowledge that includes difficulty, partisanship, and memory decay. We focus on news about the Federal Government in a monthly sample of 1,000 US voters repeated 11 times. People in the most informed tercile are 97% more likely than people in the bottom tercile to know the main story of the month. We document large inequalities across socioeconomic groups, with the best-informed group over 14 percentage points more likely to know the typical story compared to the least-informed group. Voters are 10-30% less likely to know stories unfavorable to their political party. Also, each month passing lowers the probability of knowing a story by 3-4 percentage points. We repeat our study on news about the Democratic Party primaries.

JEL Classification: L82

Suggested Citation

Angelucci, Charles and Prat, Andrea, Measuring Voters' Knowledge of Political News (August 1, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Charles Angelucci (Contact Author)

MIT Sloan ( email )

100 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Andrea Prat

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

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