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FDU Poll: Many Think US is Bailing Out Europe [AUDIO]

Most New Jersey residents don’t have a basic understanding of the Euro debt crisis that is rocking the world’s finances and has already toppled two European administrations, according to the latest results of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind Poll.

Asked which country has had to spend the most money bailing out the most financially troubled members of the European Union, just 30% correctly identify Germany, while 36%, admit not knowing, 22% say it’s the US, and the remaining 12% name some other country altogether.

“Whether we like it or not, we depend on the health of the European economy,” said Peter Woolley, director of the Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll. “We are not bailing out Greece. We can barely bail out ourselves. But Greece and others threaten to swamp our boat. This is important.”

The survey also asked what media sources people use to gather information about politics and world affairs. Combined with demographic factors such as gender, education and partisanship, this data allows analysts to calculate the effects of watching various news sources on information. For instance, someone who hasn’t watched the news at all, has about a 33% chance of saying that Germany is responsible for the bailout, a 31% chance of naming the US, and a 24% chance of admitting that he or she didn’t know. But watching the evening news makes them 8-points more likely to correctly name Germany as the country on the hook.

Independent voters are least likely to be able to answer the question correctly. While 36% of Republicans and 33% of Democrats identify Germany as the biggest donor to the bailouts, only 26% of political independents do so. Meanwhile, 30% of independents say it’s the US that is bailing out failing countries, compared with just 19% of Democrats and 21% of Republicans.

“In many cases, independents have a harder time learning about politics than partisans,” said Woolley. “They often don’t have a clear ‘good guys and bad guys’ storyline for politics, and don’t necessarily know who to trust to get their information.”

Woolley says it is alarming that a large majority of New Jersey residents have no idea what’s going on in the world. “This is a big story that has a big impact on our economy here and it’s surprising that a lot of people couldn’t correctly identify Germany as the country that is the main backer of these other European countries.”

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