Some Americans (7%) Claim to be Very Familiar with a Fictional Public Figure

Millennials Are Most Likely (16%) to Claim Familiarity with Mitch Kellogg, Fictitious Public Figure

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Washington, DC —We should probably cut Donald Trump some slack. In a recent press conference, the GOP nominee appeared to confuse Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, former Virginia Governor and current Senator Tim Kaine with the former Governor of New Jersey, Tom Kean.

Fact is, before heading into the conventions, Tim Kaine was not what you’d call a household name. A majority of Americans hadn’t even heard of him, according to an Ipsos poll.

So perhaps Mr. Trump can be forgiven for the mix-up.

Following the nomination, Ipsos wanted to see if his name-recognition had improved. The good news for the junior Senator is that yes, it had. The bad news is that he’s still got some work to do. Even once he was announced as Hillary Clinton’s pick for Vice President, about one in four Americans still hadn’t heard of him. Those numbers put him in line with GOP VP- hopeful Mike Pence. In the same survey, conducted July 28 and 29, roughly a quarter of adults didn’t know who he was.

Most Americans fall into the range of “Have heard of him” to “Somewhat familiar.”

After our pre-convention poll, Cait Lumberton, an Associate Professor of Marketing at The University of Pittsburgh's Katz School of Business, had an exchange with Cliff Young, the U.S. president of Ipsos Public Affairs on Twitter. She tweeted, “My bet is that the actual number that had heard of him is even smaller than 50%... retrospective recall is likely optimistic.” Cliff responded that it would be interesting to have a fictitious personality as a baseline. But first thing’s first. We went to and used its Random Name Generator tool. We found a name that had no corresponding page on Wikipedia (a pretty good test for whether there is a “public figure” with that name) and we put a question in the field.

We’d like to introduce you to our fictional “public figure.” America, meet Mitch Kellogg.

The thing is, some of you have apparently already met him. While 12% of Americans are “very familiar” with Tim Kaine, and 14% with Mike Pence, that’s not all that far ahead of Mitch Kellogg’s 7%. Thankfully (for the sake of our democracy) 56% responded that they had never heard of him, more than twice the level of the real public figures in the poll. Granted, that’s just about where Tim Kaine was before the convention after a career in the political spotlight.

We will give some credit to the nation’s older adults. Of the respondents over the age of 55, only 2% claimed to be very or somewhat familiar and a solid three in four admitted they had never heard of him. Compare that to Millennials, those 18-34, of whom 36% said they were at least somewhat familiar – more than had never heard of him. Yes, that’s 18 times as likely.

What does this mean? It could mean that we chose a name that just sounded so much like a public figure that people thought it must be. It could mean that there is major overstatement in recall questions like this. It could mean that this guy on Twitter, whose profile states that “God is great, beer is good and people are crazy,” is more popular than his 334 followers would suggest.

For more information, the topline and press release can be found on the right side of this page.

These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted July 28-29, 2016. For the survey, a sample of roughly 1,005 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2015 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, region, race/ethnicity and income.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents (see link below for more info on Ipsos online polling “Credibility Intervals”). Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,005, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=5).

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Matt Carmichael
Director, Editorial Strategy
Ipsos North America

About Ipsos

Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry. With a strong presence in 87 countries, Ipsos employs more than 16,000 people and has the ability to conduct research programs in more than 100 countries. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is controlled and managed by research professionals. They have built a solid Group around a multi-specialist positioning— Media and advertising research; Marketing research; Client and employee relationship management; Opinion & social research; Mobile, Online, Offline data collection and delivery. Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999.

Knowledge First Financial news release:

Some Americans (7%) Claim to be Very Familiar with a Fictional Public Figure


Matt Carmichael
Director, Editorial Strategy