70% of Americans Don’t Know the Woman Pulling Their Purse Strings
Policy + Politics

70% of Americans Don’t Know the Woman Pulling Their Purse Strings


She may be the most powerful woman in the country — arguably, in the world — but most Americans don’t know who Fed Chair Janet Yellen is.

In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey conducted this month, 70 percent of 1,000 adults interviewed said they didn’t recognize Yellen’s name or weren’t sure who she is.

Related: Why the Fed’s Patience Is About to Run Out​​​

By comparison, 52 percent said they didn’t know the name of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a possible 2016 presidential contender, and 43 percent weren’t familiar with the name of Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Less than 10 percent of people didn’t recognize the name of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who’s also eyeing the 2016 presidential race. And only 1 percent of Americans didn’t know or were unsure about Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. (The pollsters did not ask what rock those people had been living under.)

This isn’t the first survey to show that Americans are unaware of the first woman to head the Federal Reserve. A Pew Research Center News IQ survey from October 2014, for example, found that just 24 percent could correctly identify Yellen when asked to pick the Fed chair from a list of four names. Another 17 percent chose Alan Greenspan, who left the position in 2006, while 11 percent guessed Supreme Court Justices John Roberts or Sonia Sotomayor.

Related: Will Fed Rate Hikes Cost You in Higher Taxes?​

“Of the 12 multiple-choice questions asked on the survey, only two proved harder than identifying the Fed chair: knowing the share of Americans at or below the poverty line and the activity on which the U.S. government spends the most money,” Pew reported last year.

Yellen might find some small consolation — if she cares at all — in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll’s finding that 10 percent of those surveyed had a somewhat or very positive view of Yellen while just 4 percent were somewhat or very negative about her. But odds are she has more important matters on her mind.

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