“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” –Thomas Jefferson 1816.

It’s a good thing TJ isn’t around to see the results of this January 18 Pew poll on political knowledge.

“The news quiz, conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Jan. 14-17 among 1,003 adults reached on cell phones and landlines, asked 12 multiple choice questions on subjects ranging from economics and foreign affairs to prominent people in the news. Americans answered an average of 5.3 questions correctly.”

A few of the discouraging results:

* Only 26% knew that it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster in the Senate.

* 39% knew that Harry Reid is the Majority Leader in the Senate.

* 32% knew that the Senate version of health care reform passed without a single Republican vote.

* 32% could identify Michael Steele as the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

* 50% named Yemen as the country where the Christmas Day bomber received training.

* 43% knew that more Americans were killed in Afghanistan than Iraq in 2009.

* 36% could estimate the current level of the Dow Jones Industrial Average at about 10,000 points.

* 59% could name China as the country holding the most U.S. government debt.

I would like to see the poll results if the same group were asked who replaced Paula Abdul on American Idol, or the names of the cast members of Lost, or what is the location of this season’s Survivor. I’ll bet a week’s pay the numbers would be higher.