Two-Thirds of Americans Can't Name a Single Trump Cabinet Pick

Attorney general pick Jeff Sessions was the most frequently named when respondents did come up with someone. Attorney general pick Jeff Sessions was the most frequently named when respondents did come up with someone. Alex Brandon/AP

President-elect Donald Trump might be a celebrity, but a new survey indicates that his picks for Cabinet and other high-level positions have a long way to go toward achieving widespread name-recognition.

Just over one-third of Americans (34 percent) surveyed by the Pew Research Center last week were able to name one person Trump has selected for a top post. When respondents were able to come up with a name, Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions was the most popular response (10 percent named him), followed closely by Secretary of State pick Rex Tillerson and Housing and Urban Development nominee Ben Carson (each at 9 percent).

The results might seem surprising given the level of discussion in Washington over Trump’s nominees, but they are actually higher than the name-recognition for then President-elect Bill Clinton’s nominees in January 1993. Just 21 percent of people surveyed could name a Clinton nominee at that time. Forty-three percent of Americans could name a George W. Bush nominee in January 2001, and 65 percent could name an Obama appointee in January 2009, “driven in large part by familiarity with his pick for Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton,” the survey stated.  

The latest Pew Survey also indicated that a majority of Americans (58 percent) think the president-elect will be “too impulsive” in his decision-making, while 34 percent believe he will be “about right” and 4 percent, “too cautious.” Americans are concerned about Trump’s potential conflicts of interest, though slightly less so than they were following the election, Pew found.

Fifty-seven percent in the latest survey said they were very or somewhat concerned that the president-elect’s “relationships with organizations, businesses or foreign governments conflict with his ability to serve the country’s best interests,” according to a summary of the results. This compared to 65 percent in December.

Survey respondents were more evenly divided over how active Trump will be in actually running the government. Half of respondents predicted that the president-elect will be “in charge of what goes on in his administration most of the time,” Pew found. Forty-three percent thought other staff members would really be in charge.

The survey was conducted from Jan. 4 – Jan. 9 among 1,502 adults, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

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