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'Daily Show' viewers ace political quiz

Survey reveals late-night TV viewers better informed

By Bryan Long

Viewers of Stewart, Letterman and Leno scored better on a quiz of political knowledge than people who do not watch late-night comedy.
• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry
David Letterman
Jay Leno
Jon Stewart

(CNN) -- So, three guys are watching TV.

One turns on Jay Leno. One tunes into David Letterman. And the other watches Jon Stewart.

Who's better informed politically?

In a recent survey, viewers of Stewart's "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central tested better than Letterman and Leno viewers on a six-question politics quiz. (How do you stack up? Take the quiz and compare your score.)

Viewers of all three shows know more about the background of presidential candidates and their positions on issues than people who don't watch late-night TV.

On top of that, "Daily Show" viewers know more about election issues than people who regularly read newspapers or watch television news, according to the National Annenberg Election Survey. (Pop quiz)

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young, a senior research analyst at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, said "Daily Show" viewers came out on top "even when education, party identification, following politics, watching cable news, receiving campaign information online, age and gender are taken into consideration."

The quiz was given to 19,013 adults between July 15 and September 19.

The quiz included these questions:

"Who favors allowing workers to invest some of their Social Security contributions in the stock market?" Answer: Bush.

"Who urges Congress to extend the federal law banning assault weapons?" Answer: Kerry.

While viewers of NBC's "The Tonight Show" and CBS's "The Late Show" scored better than the general public, Stewart's fans came out on top.

Leno and Letterman viewers scored 49 percent on the quiz. But "Daily Show" viewers scored 60 percent on average.

Scores were even lower for those who read a newspaper or watch network news four days a week.

Comedy Central was waiting for news like this. On September 17, Stewart appeared on Bill O'Reilly's "The O'Reilly Factor" only to be told his viewers are "stoned slackers" and "dopey kids."

"You know what's really frightening?" O'Reilly asked Stewart. " You actually have an influence on this presidential election. That is scary, but it's true."

Comedy Central used its viewers' test scores Tuesday to strike back at Fox News Channel and O'Reilly's viewers.

It also trotted out stats from Nielsen Media Research to show that Stewart's viewers are not only smart, but more educated than O'Reilly's.

"Daily Show" viewers are 78 percent more likely than the average adult to have four or more years of college education, while O'Reilly's audience is only 24 percent more likely to have that much schooling.

Plus, the network noted, "Daily Show" viewers are 26 percent more likely to have a household income more than $100,000, while O'Reilly's audience is only 11 percent more likely to make that much money.

So the guy watching Stewart may not only be smart, but may also be rich.

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