The Ipsos Care-o-Meter: What does America know about vs. what does America care about?

The Ipsos Care-o-Meter asks Americans what they know about vs. what they care about, twice every month. From a solar eclipse to political fights, the answers say as much about Americans as they do about the world at large. Here's the latest.

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  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab
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Updated June 6, 2024, 3:30p.m.

Every day, we are bombarded with news and information. Some is of the utmost importance in the short-term or long-term. Some is frivolous. Regardless, we make a million decisions in our own personal taxonomy of how much we are going to care about All the Things.

Ipsos decided to start measuring this with our now-one-year-old feature: The Care-o-Meter. This will take a pulse of the zeitgeist and also how much of a bubble we are in.

It’s a simple pair of questions: How much do you know about a series of in-the-news events, and how much do you care about them?

Care-o-Meter, Wave 86.5

Week of May 27, 2024: This wave is another data point in something we observed at the start of the year. If we ask the CoM around a major holiday: NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING. Like at all. People say Americans have a hard time unplugging. We present a solid counter argument here. And this was a one-day Monday kinda holiday. Not even a full “holiday season” kind of holiday. The only item that fell onto the Know side of the ledger was the Northern Lights appearing in all 50 states for the first time in a generation or so. Which meant that not only did news outlets everywhere cover it, but social feeds were saturated with people who got to see them and others (cough, me) expressing massive regret for missing out. Things that we didn’t know about included the leaders of Israel and Hamas being accused of war crimes by the International Criminal Court. So not really just small, insignificant news items. A lot of don’t know/care in this wave.

Also in the Care-o-Meter:

  • Of all the things we didn’t know about this wave, there were only two we didn’t really care about. One was the news that both Miss USA and Miss Teen USA had resigned their titles, citing the toll the jobs took on them. Which, like Simone Biles’ hiatus from gymnastics, is a fascinating signal about stress, mental health and shifting priorities. But like many pop culture things, it’s down in this quadrant.
  • Also in don’t know/don’t care was news that the Pope has cleared the way for a teenage social media wiz to become the first member of the Millennial generation elevated to sainthood. 
  • That left a very crowded field of don’t know/care. Including three climate-related items, which almost always wind up in care regardless of how much we know. One was a news item about scientists discovering that Antarctica’s so-called “Doomsday glacier” is melting much faster than previously thought. Two were about reactions to climate change. One was Florida passing legislation that reduces or stops efforts to fight climate change and increases the use of fossil fuels in the state. The other reaction was Iceland moving to reduce climate change impacts by opening the world’s largest “vacuum” to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
    People didn’t know but cared that the Dow hit 40,000 for the first time. (Would they care more if it had stayed there instead of dropping back to ~39,000? Hard to say.)
  • And in an issue near and dear to my heart, People didn’t know, and only slightly cared that portions of the Midwest and South are being invaded by not one but two huge broods of cicadas. I say this as the drone hovers in the 70- (vacuum cleaner) to 80- (blender) decibel range, with neighbors hearing over 100db, which starts getting into rock concert territory. Midwesterners were not surprisingly more likely to know but not all that much more likely to care. Man, these things are loud.
     
chart showing that few people know or care about a feud between rappers Drake and Kendrick Lamar

Week of May 13, 2024: Years ago, President Obama was asked a question on an important matter that could face the nation in the future: Who would win in a rap battle between Kendrick Lamar and Drake? Obama chose presciently, according to Billboard, which says that Kendrick defeated Drake because he, “got surgical on ‘em.” This feud, which has been simmering for a decade, boiled over for reasons that you can read the Wikipedia page on, because I fall into “don’t care” on this one and don’t want to read it myself to tell you. This fell very far into don’t know/don’t care, despite the raft of media think pieces (PBS, really?!?) on the topic. There was a big racial split on this. Two in three Black Americans were familiar with this compared to just 18% of white Americans. Black Americans still fell in don’t care (just 36%) but that was almost three times higher than the caring rate for white Americans.

Also in the Care-o-Meter:

  • The failed effort led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to remove Speaker Mike Johnson landed right on the axis for “know” and just over the line on “care.”
  • President Biden’s statement refusing to supply further arms to Israel if it attacked the Palestinian town of Rafah was mid-way in the care quadrant, much further up than the number of people who knew about it.
  • Many more cared than knew about the United Methodist Church reversing its decades-long ban on LGBTQ+ clergy and same-sex marriage, which came about after a schism in the denomination over this in recent years.
  • And there was a whopping 45-point gap between know and care on a new government report reaffirming that Social Security’s trust fund will run out of money in 2033, causing automatic benefit cuts for retirees. People cared about that A LOT. Like, a record-tying amount – the same number of people cared about this as cared about deadly wildfires in Maui, our previous most-cared-about event (and 1 point ahead of smoke from Canadian wildfires last summer).

 

Chart showing that many people know and care about pro-Palestinian protests

Week of April 29, 2024: Depending on what news you read, the headlines are likely dominated by news of ongoing unrest on college campuses as pro-Palestinian demonstrators urge colleges and universities to divest from investments touching the Israeli government (and in many cases, news of the clashes those demonstrators are having with pro-Israel groups). Familiarity with these events is much higher among Americans 55 and older than with the more college-aged 18-34s (78% vs. 57%). Despite that, our level of caring is high and consistent across most demographics, although those with a college degree are more likely to care than those without.

Also in the Care-o-Meter:

  • We are quite familiar with Congress passing legislation requiring TikTok to be sold. Seven in ten reported familiarity, which is perhaps surprisingly consistent across age groups and demographics. Caring is also high, but lower than the levels of familiarity. It’s somewhat higher among younger Americans (63%) than those 55+ (56%).
  • In don’t know/do care we find news that the bird flu (H5N1) is no appearing in more types of mammals.
  • Also in don’t know but care, we see Tennessee’s new law allowing teachers to carry guns in their classrooms. Parents and non-parents care equally about this. Republicans were twice as likely as Democrats to say they don’t care at all (22% to 11%).
  • Sports stories tend to fall in don’t know/don’t care. But what happens when you add in an economic spin? Pay disparities between the WNBA and NBA first round draft picks. The top NBA pick will be paid 137 times the $76,535 Caitlin Clark will make in her first year. Incidentally, a courtside seat to see Clark play in Chicago is roughly five to six times the price on StubHub of a comparable game the weekend before. The highest paid WNBA player makes a quarter of the NBA’s minimum wage. Sure, the NBA makes a lot more money as a league, but NBA players share 50% of that take while WNBA players share only 10%. Anyway, all of this aside, this story wound up still in don’t know/don’t care but at it was closer to the middle than most sports stories.
Chart showing that people say they significantly care about a series of political events

Week of April 15, 2o24: The NCAA women’s basketball tournament was a big deal this year. How big? It more people watched the women’s championship than watched the men’s championship for the first time. That’s how big. We didn’t ask about the winners as we have with other sports, but we asked about the ratings. And while about half knew that fact, fewer cared. What gives? Are we jaded by being told that “this is the year” for women’s sports to break through into more mainstream fandom for a while now? Are we taking a more wait-and-see approach about whether this is really a big deal? Or do we just not care too much about sports (perhaps unless our team wins). The Care-o-Meter archive suggests the latter. The “don’t care” attitude aligns with questions over the last year about the NBA Finals, baseball’s World Series, the College Football championships (Go Blue!). People cared even less about the NHL finals in general and if we specified the teams who played for the Stanley Cup caring actually decreased. The only thing that barely edged into the caring side was the Super Bowl that, according to the Internet, was won by Taylor Swift’s boyfriend in an effort to sway the 2024 election and the referees following a script and calling favorable penalties for Chief’s quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Also in the Care-o-Meter:

  • Arizona’s Supreme Court letting an 1860s abortion ban take effect was just over the know line but quite a ways up in care
  • More knew and cared about President Trump’s declaration that states should be responsible for abortion laws, suggesting he doesn’t favor a federal ban
  • Also in know/ care was the parents of a school shooter from Michigan being sentenced to prison for involuntary manslaughter for allowing their son access to a gun
  • More knew and even more cared about President Biden cancelling more student loan debt
Chart showing that people know and care almost as much about the solar eclipse as a bridge collapsing

Week of April 1, 2024: The tragedy of the collapse of the Key Bridge in Baltimore and the ongoing disruptions to global supply chains were notably high in know and care. This was certainly a story that dominated the news cycle. But it actually set the new record for most-known item we’ve asked about, beating out things like the Super Bowl, the initial outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas, or President Trump being charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

  • The total solar eclipse also reached very high in know/care
  • A trailer filled with Bibles being set on fire in front of a Tennessee church on Easter Sunday was down pretty far in don’t know, but up over the axis in care. There wasn’t really a party split on familiarity, which is interesting in that FoxNews.com was featuring the story pretty prominently. But Republicans (76%) were far more likely to care (54%) than Democrats. People who say that religion and spirituality are important to them were also much more likely to care.
  • And the antitrust suit filed against Apple also crossed into care, despite being on the don’t know side of the axis.
  • The sentencing of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried for fraud in his running of the cryptocurrency exchange fell into don’t know/don’t care.

 

People don't know or care about Bitcoin's new record high

March 26, 2024: Bitcoin has rebounded. After a punishing 2022, it’s back to setting record highs. Not many know, and not many care. But still not a bad thing for folks to be aware of, eh?

  • Meanwhile, a measles outbreak in the U.S., which had essentially vanquished the disease decades ago, is very high in care, despite fewer folks knowing about it.
  • We knew and cared about yet another act of Congress averting a shut-down temporarily.
  • We cared a bit less about the U.S. House bill which would require TikTok to be owned by a non-Chinese entity, perhaps because it faces a very uncertain future in the Senate. And oddly, there wasn’t much of an age skew in that.
  • And unlike many of the sporty or awards things that wind up in don’t know/don’t care, the Oscars did pretty well on “know” but yeah, don’t care.

Chart showing that people know and care about a massive Texas wildfire, but don't care about Beyonce topping the country music charts

March 12, 2024: Looking back over the Care-o-Meter archive, one of the things we consistently care about is the climate. But even more than other climate news, last summer’s wildfire smoke was one of the most-cared-about things ever. So it’s no surprise to see the Texas wildfires, now the second-largest in U.S. history with over 1.25 million acres burned, very high in care, even though only a bare majority (56%) knew about it.

  • The U.S. landed a craft on the moon for the first time in 50 years. Which, when you put it that way, seems like a big deal. While it barely got over the line on “know,” it jumped up quite a bit on care.
  • People knew and cared about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed former President Trump to remain on the Colorado ballot.
  • Mitch McConnell announced he will step down from his leadership role in the Senate after the November elections. We kinda knew and barely cared, perhaps because this was fairly widely expected.
  • The other thing we cared a lot about was a measure of inflation that the Federal Reserve keeps a close eye on, posting a big increase in January.
  • Beyoncé recently became the first Black woman to top the country music charts with her new song, “Texas Hold ’Em.” This fell pretty far in the don’t know/don’t care, with even fewer caring than knew. However, Black Americans put it firmly in the know/care. Beyoncé isn’t looking back as she continues to “break the internet” with her new releases. 

chart showing that people know and care about cancellation of student loans

Feb. 26, 2024: The Tracker team consumes a lot of news from a lot of sources. We’re on social media. We are plugged into the zeitgeist and we do it all for you. But you… where are you getting your news and entertainment? Or even are you? Once again, in this wave of 10 headline-grabbing events, only a handful fell above the “know” line. 

You knew about the two Super Bowl things because, like, everyone watched that. (Note, the Tracker’s question about whether people planned to watch the Super Bowl matched up pretty well with the final ratings). And Biden’s student loan forgiveness was over the line; however, since that was breaking news, we suspect most people had heard of previous plans. And people knew that former President Trump was fined a whole ton of money for fraud in New York State. But that was it. And the two Super Bowl items (Kansas City winning and Taylor Swift being there) you didn’t even really care about. 

There’s an insight here for the media. People care about Trump-related things. People care about student loan forgiveness. And many more cared than knew about the special election that flipped the seat held by former U.S. Rep. George Santos. Same for the AI story (people care about AI) that a there was a robocall using an AI-generated deepfake of President Biden which urged people not to vote in the New Hampshire Primary. According to NBC, the guy who made the audio was hired by a former consultant to Biden opponent Dean Phillips. I only bring this up because I can leave with you this amazing detail. He's not a hacker or some AI savant. He's a magician, who, and let me quote NBC News here, “holds world records in fork-bending and straitjacket escapes, but has no fixed address." See how much fun keeping up with the news is? Care-o-meter Feb. 9

Feb. 9, 2024: People knew and cared about the huge judgment issued against former President Donald Trump in the defamation of E. Jean Carroll. Previously, a jury found him liable for sexually abusing the former advice columnist, and awarded her $5 million in damages, but his continued defamation will now cost him $83.3 million more.

Elsewhere:

  • You’d never know from the media, or her sold-out concerts, or her best-selling albums, or the ratings boost to Chiefs games, but people keep saying they don’t care about Taylor Swift items. And before you ask, yes, there is a bit of a party split in the people who say they don’t care about her new album announcement (GOP +10ish), but that split existed before she recently became a target of conspiracy theories.
  • The much-hyped Apple Vision Pro launch fell in don’t know/don’t care, but more people in the West cared.
  • Fielded before the failed impeachment vote against Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, we asked Americans about the issue. Familarity was even across party lines. Republicans were more likely to say they care a lot, but overall, caring was even across party lines.
  • The same is true of the allegations of misconduct by Fani Willis in the Georgia Election case.
  • High in the don’t know but care is a warning from FBI director Wray about risks from Chinese hackers.

 

Jan. 26, 2024: After last wave’s Care-o-Meter, which found that no one was paying attention to the news over the holidays, this wave finds half of the items back solidly in the “know” side of the equator. Which is good, because there’s a lot of important stuff going on. Former and would-be President Donald Trump won the Iowa caucuses, and challenger Ron DeSantis dropped out of the race, both of which were in know/care, with Republicans caring much more than Democrats.

But the big know/care of this wave was the remarkable feat of engineering and physics and luck that kept a Boeing 737 Max 9 in flight after a chunk of it blew out mid-air. That was a very well-known story and decently well-cared-about, too. It’s approaching the levels of know/care we have mostly seen with geopolitical conflicts and climate disasters.

Elsewhere:

  • Less well-known were the ongoing attacks on ships in the Red Sea, a critical shipping lane for global commerce. But it was very high in care.
  • People also cared about the secretary of defense not notifying the White House during a recent hospitalization. There was no party split on that, by the way.
  • Nearly all of the most-streamed/watched events in 2023 were football games. Yet, the University of Michigan’s victory in the College Football Playoff (HAIL!) and the departures of legendary coaches Nick Saban (University of Alabama) and Bill Belichick (NFL’s New England Patriots) both fell in don’t know/don’t care. However, men were much more likely to both know and care.
  • The awards shows continue to wither away in don’t know/don’t care (last wave with the Golden Globes, this wave with the Emmys.)
  • And despite what you might have read in the New York Times, or seen in your social media feeds, it seems no one cares about Jeremy Allen (tighty) White’s appearance in some new ads from Calvin Klein.

Chart showing that few people were paying attention to news events over the holidaysJan. 17, 2024: New year, new Care-o-Meter. Fans will notice we have a new look to the CoM. We hope you enjoy.

Now, it seems everyone was in a news coma over the holidays. Of the 10 items we asked about, only ONE (Trump being removed from some state primary ballots) fell into the “know” side of the ledger. Everything else slipped under the radar: Big news events like a broadening of the conflict in the Middle East, as Israel killed a senior Hamas leader in Lebanon (not in Palestine where the attacks had been centered previously). But also, pop culture events like the Golden Globes went unnoticed.

Nothing hit our collective radar. But when they did, many wound up in don’t know/care. This is a fascinating wave for confirming that the end of the year is a great time to bury news you don’t want people to see.

Elsewhere:

  • We cared about a lot of things, even if we didn’t know about them. Following some CoM patterns, we care about the Israel/Hamas war, the environment and climate change (record low ice coverage in the Great Lakes) and AI (the New York Times suing OpenAI and Microsoft was right on the axis). We also cared about the fact that this is the biggest election year in history with half of the world’s population having elections this year. Stay tuned, that’s already turning into a huge story as the year dawns, with Taiwan electing a leader who rejects China’s territorial claims.
  • Pop culture items wound up mostly in “don’t know/don’t care.” The Golden Globes were a big win for “Succession” and “Oppenheimer” (“Barbie” was robbed) but failed to blip into our collective caring overall.
  • While it seemed all the New York Times could write about for weeks, Harvard’s president resigning failed to cross into “care,” though it got close.
  • The whole thing with the Pop-Tarts Bowl in college football and its mascot being eaten or something and then Cheez-Its got involved and whatever happened there…. I dunno. I’m sure Wendy’s weighed in on Twitter. Very few knew, and EVEN FEWER cared. You can Google it if you want to know, I’m not explaining it.

Chart showing that Americans both know and care about the war between Israel and HamasDecember 13, 2023: At any given point, nearly half of Americans are trying to lose weight, according to Ipsos data. It’s among the biggest New Year’s resolutions. And it’s a topic that has been much in the news, as new drugs are gaining headlines for their incredible weight loss capabilities.

Earlier Tracker data showed that most Americans understand that obesity is a disease and major public health issue, indicating that Americans are starting to get that obesity isn’t just due to lack of willpower. Joining the crowd is Weight Watchers, whose CEO recently told CNN that the company had been wrong about weight loss since its inception. Which is a pretty astonishing, if unavoidable, admission. That was the least-known news item in the Care-o-Meter this wave, however, and only slightly more people cared, leaving it firmly in don’t know/don’t care.

Elsewhere:

  • News about the war between Israel and Hamas continues to rank very high in the Know/Care quadrant
  • “Authentic” being the word of the year is not something anyone knew or cared about
  • Nor was the saga about OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman, getting fired and reinstated, despite what your newsfeed might have said
  • Russia’s Supreme Court essentially outlawed LGBTQ+ activism, which was deep in “don’t know” but much closer to the care axis
  • Slightly more people knew that Congressman George Santos was expelled from the U.S. House, in a rather extraordinary rebuke, than knew he was indicted for fraud earlier this year. But fewer cared, which maybe just means everyone had already moved on?

Chart showing that Americans care about a lawsuit that could upend the real estate industryNovember 14, 2023: One of the most potentially impactful news items slipped under most people’s radar. In a wonky class action suit in Missouri, a jury found that Realtors (and the National Association of Realtors) colluded to keep commissions paid to Realtors high. The judge in the case could order more than $5 billion in damages and could also restructure the way commissions are paid, which would have wide-ranging implications for access to the Multiple Listing Service and more.

It’s hard to say what the outcome will be for the entire real estate economy (especially because an appeal is almost certainly coming), but “profound” is a word that comes mind. Which probably explains the 35-point gap between limited familiarity and high caring we see in this week’s Care-o-Meter.

Elsewhere:

  • In the “world moves pretty fast” department, in the previous wave we asked about the ongoing drama around replacing Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s, which was unresolved as we went into field (much higher in know/care). And in this wave, we find the naming of his replacement, Mike Johnson, yields a lower, overall middling level of “know” and not much higher in “care.”
  • Pretty low levels of both knowing and caring about the “new” song by John, Paul, George and Ringo. The Beatles used the final known vocal from John Lennon, new and archival studio recordings and AI to generate a track fittingly called “Now and Then.” People did care slightly more than they cared about the new full album by the Rolling Stones in a previous wave, with all new material they just recorded at age… 80, in Mick’s case.
  • Not all that many cared about the Rangers beating the Astros in the World Series, despite it actually being pretty entertaining baseball. But they cared more than they cared about the NBA or NHL playoffs, which also featured teams without a major fan base.
  • The guilty verdict in the fraud case of the founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX fell in don’t know/don’t care.
  • And, as with the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the rise of antisemitism around the world that is following it falls high in know and even higher in care.

Care-o-Meter on Israel, Trump, Britney SpearsOctober 30, 2023: Still strongly in the know/care quadrant is the war between Israel and Hamas, which broke out shortly before the previous wave of the Tracker was in field. Two weeks later, it has moved even higher in familiarity and a touch higher in caring with 58% caring “a lot.” Those numbers are pretty consistent across demographics and party lines, although the affluent ($125k+ household income) care even more.

Elsewhere:

  • In the “world moves pretty fast” department, in the previous wave we asked about Speaker McCarthy’s impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden (just made it into know/care). In this wave we asked about the ongoing drama around replacing him which was unresolved as we went into field (much higher in know/care). And look for us to ask about the appointment of his replacement in the next wave.
  • Home sales falling to the lowest level since 2010 follows a trend we’ve seen about economic news, especially positive news which this isn’t necessarily, winding up in don’t know/care.
  • Trump news continues to hang out in know/care but moves around there a lot. Some news, like his indictment on charges related to tampering with the election was high in know/care. But several of his lawyers taking plea deals is much lower on both axis in that quadrant.
  • And finally, “From the Bottom of my Broken Heart,” I hope you go buy the new Britney Spears memoir, “The Woman in Me,” which fell sadly into don’t know/don’t care across every demo. I’m already looking forward to the sequel, which had better be called “Baby One More Time.” I realize this was a “Crazy” attempt to squeeze her song titles into this write-up “Everytime” I could. I hope some readers kept cheering, “Gimme More.” As for the rest of you… I hope you don’t “Hold it Against me.” “Oops… I did it again.”

Chart showing that people care deeply about the war between Israel and HamasOctober 16, 2023: The overwhelming news story of this cycle broke over the weekend as Hamas staged a surprise attack on Israel in a scale not seen in decades. It quickly became something that people both knew and cared a lot about. To a lesser extent, people know about the ouster of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and former President Trump being found liable for fraud in New York State. Whether those stories took up all the mental headspace we had left or it was otherwise a slow news week, we had a lot in the don’t know/don’t care quadrant this wave.

Elsewhere:

  • People mostly don’t know/don’t care about the launch of the Sphere in Las Vegas. The massive entertainment venue, with a skyline blinding LED exoskeleton, opened recently with the beginning of a residency from U2.
  • Americans didn’t know or care about Taylor Swift skipping the week three contest of her new friend Kansas City Chiefs star, Travis Kelce. (The last wave of the CoM had her attending one of his games in know/don’t care.)
  • People also don’t know or care that a dental plan used AI to spoof Tom Hanks endorsing its services (without his consent). That’s a rare “don’t care” for an AI-related topic.
  • People didn’t know but did care about the largest healthcare strike in history as 75,000 Kaiser Permanente workers walked off the job.
  • And people didn’t know or care about President Biden’s dog being removed from the White House after biting too many staff members in recent months.
  • People did care (though didn’t know) about President Biden’s waiving federal laws to fast-track new border wall construction in South Texas.

 

Chart showing that Americans know about Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce but don't careOctober 4, 2023: The past two weeks have seen a lot of news about labor. The United Autoworkers union went on strike against each of the “Big Three” U.S. automakers at once for the first time in decades. President Biden supported the workers by joining the picket line, which is a highly unusual step for a sitting president. Former President Trump also visited Detroit to show support for workers, although oddly at a non-union factory. And in the Care-o-Meter, we’ve seen growth in both knowing and caring about various labor issues. The tentative deal reached by the Writers Guild of America was much more firmly in know/care than it was when they launched their strike, as was the UAW strike.

Meanwhile, the NFL had two big stories with implications beyond the score. One was the Los Angeles Rams kicking a field goal as time ran out that had a zero impact on the game but a lot of impact on the betting community. And Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce inviting Taylor Swift to watch the game. She did, and the internet exploded. Swifties even wanted to learn about football, which would be quite the coup for the NFL to expand into that fan base. Yet this watershed event gave us a rare know/don’t care entry.

Elsewhere:

  • People mostly don’t know/don’t care about Coach Prime (Deion Sanders) taking over the football coaching duties at University of Colorado, bringing his sons to play for him as well. There are a lot of good story lines here about the future of the sport, if you’re into that sort of thing. Black Americans are three times as likely (22% to 7%) to say they care a lot.
  • Democrats care slightly more about the indictment of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) than Republicans.
  • Democrats also care slightly more about the looming government shutdown (including a 62% to 49% split in caring “a lot”). But this issue is something that pretty much everyone cares about.
  • Rupert Murdoch stepping down as chair of Fox and News Corp. and handing the keys to his son fell firmly in the don’t know/don’t care.
  • The deal to return American hostages from Iran in exchange for billions in oil assets being unfrozen – a trade that has polarized response – landed well into care, while evenly split on the number of people who knew.
  • And the impeachment inquiry against President Biden was in our know/care quadrant.

Chart showing what Americans know about vs. what they care aboutSeptember 18, 2023 – Some high-profile news items dropped in the last week about the continued blockade of military appointments by U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., as part of his protest of a Defense Dept. policy paying costs for those serving if they need to travel for an abortion or reproductive care. One profiled the acting Marine Corps. Commandant who is awaiting confirmation. And numerous outlets and officials are raising national security concerns that the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is retiring soon, and we won’t have a replacement. But the Care-o-Meter hasn’t budged on this topic. Awareness is still low (-22), and caring is much higher, but still not high (+6). Democrats know more and care much more (so do older Americans). According to CNN, Sen. Tuberville himself said that he didn't know if Gen. Milley would "go anywhere until we get somebody confirmed" to replace him after retiring this month. When told he had to leave by law, Tuberville said: "He has to leave? . . . We'll get someone else to do the job." So, I think that counts him in with the rest of America in don’t know/care.

Elsewhere:

  • Democrats know more about the flooding that stranded people at the annual Burning Man festival (more like “Drowning Man,” amiright?). It squeaks into the know/care quadrant.
  • Higher-income Americans know more about President Biden canceling oil and gas leases in Alaska; there was a sizable gap between knowing (-15) and caring (+21).
  • Similarly, Mexico’s decriminalization of abortion fell in don’t know/care. Democrats care more.
  • We don’t know or care about the new Rolling Stones album, despite it being the first new material from the band since 2005. Come on, folks. It’s the STONES!
  • And we barely know but do indeed care about the record-breaking heat in Phoenix, which just topped 54 days this year over 110 degrees. But it’s a dry inferno.

 

Ipsos Care-o-meter published on September 6September 6, 2023 – In this wave’s Care-o-Meter, despite all the controversy around Bud Light and the boycott Kid Rock helped fuel, few knew nor cared that the rapper was spotted drinking a bottle of the beverage himself. But we care a lot about rising COVID cases.

  • Sen. Tuberville’s blockade of military promotions over a Pentagon policy related to access to abortion and reproductive care fell in “don’t know but care.” Will a front-page story in the Washington Post over the weekend about national security concerns related to the stalled confirmation of the Marine Corps. Commandant (and others) lead to more people knowing?
  • Japan announced that it has discharged into the ocean “slightly radioactive” water from the Fukushima nuclear plant which suffered a catastrophic failure in 2011. Scientists say the impact will be negligible, but reports are alleging a Chinese disinformation campaign is stoking fears and anger.
  • The other cultural touchpoint of the past couple of weeks was the huge chart-topping success of the song “Rich Men North of Richmond” by heretofore unknown singer/songwriter Oliver Anthony. Despite featuring in the GOP debates and no shortage of think pieces, it didn’t make its way out of “don’t know/don’t care.”
  • Up in the “Know/Care” area, we see some familiar themes: bad economic news (high mortgages), bad climate news (California’s first-ever tropical storm) as well as rising COVID cases.

The Ipsos Care-o-Meter (Week of August 14)

August 14, 2023 – In this wave’s Care-o-Meter, we compare Trump’s legal woes with each other and with Hunter Biden’s (AGAIN, because they both have new legal woes). We look at Barbie again as well, plus economic news, climate news and a little test about Biden’s ban on high-tech investments in China.

  • Climate calamities continue to rank high in the know/care area. This wave’s contribution is wildfires that decimated the island of Maui in Hawaii.
  • Trump has two new criminal cases this week and we find that people both know and care about both of them. Democrats were more likely to say they care a lot. But both parties care and care more than independents. They care more about these charges than previous ones. Comparing previous CoM waves, we find that people care about the charges in the following order:
  •  
    • Federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 insurrection
    • Crimes in Georgia related to overturning the 2020 election
    • Additional charges in classified documents case
    • Original federal charges related to his handling of classified documents
    • A civil jury finding that President Trump sexually assaulted and defamed E. Jean Carroll
    • The Durham Report on the FBI’s Donald Trump/Russia investigation
  • Overall, people continue to not care about Hunter Biden, but Republicans were more likely to care a lot than Democrats.
  • More people know and care about the Barbie movie since its opening, but it’s still in the Know/Don’t Care quadrant.
  • We did a split sample on the White House banning some high-tech investment in China. If we said it was a Biden policy people cared less than if we said it was a “move by the U.S.” but regardless it’s in the Don’t know/Care area.
  • Don’t know/Care was crowded this wave, including: the racially charged riverfront brawl in Montgomery, Ala. (Black Americans were twice as likely to care a lot); the FDA approving the first drug to treat postpartum depression and Ohio voters rejecting a measure that would have made it harder to amend the state’s constitution.

August 7, 2023 – Inflation is still a thing people both know and care about, as the Fed’s latest interest rate hike pops in the upper right box. People also care about good economic news like US GDP growth beating forecasts, they just don’t know about it. This continues a trend we have seen from the Care-o-Meter in previous waves: no one knows the good economic news, but when asked, they care. Likewise, AI news continues to rank on the care axis. Whether we know about AI news or not, we care about it. This wave asked about the recent voluntary guidelines the that AI developers have agreed to.

Elsewhere we find:

  • Climate news also is a thing we care about, even if the record ocean water temperatures in Florida are less known
  • People don’t know about soccer news, nor do they particularly care that global superstar Lionel Messi joined the Major League Soccer club Inter Miami, or that the Women’s World Cup was underway. And since the US Women’s National Team got knocked out earlier than expected, that’s unlikely to move up in the caring department in a way that it would have had they made a longer run to repeating as champions.
  • People also don’t know or care about one of the major recent global news stories: Israel limiting its Supreme Court’s power
  • Hunter Biden news continues to sit in the “don’t care” quadrant. This wave, the news of plea deal not being approved by the judge plotted almost exactly where his guilty plea landed in a previous wave.
  • A news story that seemed to get a lot of play didn’t really register as the arrest of a suspect in the “Gilgo Beach” murders wound up in the don’t know side, barely ticking into the care quadrant.

July 17, 2023 -This weekend saw the much-hyped opening of the oddest couple, perhaps ever: the strangely conjoined releases of the Barbie movie and the Oppenheimer biopic. The box office set a number of box office records with both movies exceeding expectations. The Care-o-Meter showed that not everyone has to care for something to be a big deal. The opening of both movies fell squarely in the “don’t care” hemisphere, with Barbie far into the “know” and Oppenheimer far into the “don’t know.” If you’re curious, as we were, women were slightly more likely to be familiar with the Barbie launch but there was no gender difference in how much they cared. Elsewhere we find:

  • An under-reported milestone: The last of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile was decommissioned: We have no more and neither does the rest of the world. This is big news that few knew, but people really cared about it once they did.
  • We have been testing a theory from Chris Jackson, who leads polling for Ipsos, that people don’t know, but care about positive economic news. “Inflation falling to its lowest level since 2021,” supports this idea as does items we have seen in previous CoMs.
  • Climate catastrophes like the flooding in Vermont and New York state and the hottest days ever recorded on Earth were both known and cared about at high levels.
  • The federal government pledging again to forgive student loan debt after the Supreme Court recently struck down previous efforts was high in the know/care as well.
  • Meta’s Threads launch, which went from zero to a bajillion users in its first week, hasn’t moved the needle much in this wave, staying squarely in the don’t know/don’t care quadrant.
  • The Screen Actor’s Guild joined the writers in striking against Hollywood studios. This is the largest strike of its kind in decades. The last time the actors went on strike, Ronald Reagan was campaigning to be president. And the last time both the actors and writers went on strike at the same time, Reagan was SAG president! Still, people don’t really care. Yet.

July 10: Americans care about the Supreme Court's decisions

Chart showing that Americans care about recent Supreme Court decisions, even if they don't know about them

In this wave’s Care-o-Meter, we can compare the various major Supreme Court of the United States rulings. For the most part, people cared about the four major rulings released in the recent round. They cared slightly more about the ruling that overturned the plan to forgive student loans. That was a high level of caring across the board. Older Americans cared a bit more, as did affluent Americans. This certainly feels like one that a lot of people could care about for different reasons.   

But while caring was pretty even across the rulings, familiarity was much more fluid. Many fewer knew about the ruling regarding the role of state courts in regulating federal elections from a case in North Carolina. But people cared about it nonetheless.  

  • The other court case covered in this wave is an injunction filed by a federal judge in Louisiana restricting the federal government’s interaction with social media companies. Fewer knew about it than most of the SCOTUS cases but people did still care enough to move it above the line. 
  • This wave fielded as Meta’s new Threads app was in the process of rocketing from zero to 100 million users. Nearly half of Americans knew about it (even my mom, which says a lot) but not as many cared. 
  • Smoke from Canadian wildfires, which blanketed a new part of the U.S. since the previous CoM Care-o-Meter, was slightly higher in the upper right as even more people both knew and cared. This becomes our first trended CoM item, for those keeping score. 
  • The discovery of cocaine in the area of the White House where West Wing public tours happen wasn’t well known, nor cared about. 
  • As my colleague Tyler pointed out, it’s not great news for the Biden administration that the cocaine story was better known than Biden’s recent speeches and appearances touting his “Bidenomics” economic plan. People equally didn’t care about either.
  • We had a tie where few knew or really cared about the return to competition of gymnast Simone Biles, which might portend another Olympic bid, nor an audience member throwing things at singer Adele during one of her concerts. 
  • Perhaps surprisingly, the uprising in Russia led by the Wagner mercenary group was right on the line of know/don’t know and only a little above the threshold of caring.  

June 26: Americans care about Canadian wildfire smoke more than anything else

Ipsos Care-o-meter published on June 26

  • People both know and care more about former President Trump being indicted on federal charges than they did about a civil jury finding that he sexually assaulted and defamed E. Jean Carroll. Both Democrats and Republicans care equally about this.
  • Hunter Biden’s guilty plea broke right before we fielded this wave, which could count for slightly lower awareness, but also overall people don’t really care. Republicans do care more (and are twice as likely to care “a lot” than Democrats).
  • People REALLY care about the smoke from Canadian wildfires that has been drifting over much of the U.S. With 83% of people saying they care about wildfire smoke, it is the most-cared-about thing we have asked about yet.
  • The levels of not-knowing or caring about three new formal entrants in the GOP race for 2024 – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – vary slightly, but they are all below the halfway line. Republicans most cared about DeSantis and cared more than Democrats about his entry and Pence’s. Interestingly, Democrats care more about Christie entering the race than Republicans did, perhaps owing to his frequent criticism of Trump or former governorship of a reliably blue state. 
  • The Washingtonian and one of our colleagues in Public Affairs each asked recently why people don’t know as much about positive economic news. Of which there is a lot. People were much more likely to KNOW about a very recent news announcement like the Federal Reserve raising interest rates (we asked a couple waves ago) or even the failure of First Republic Bank than they were to know about longer-term positives like low unemployment or the fact that inflation is now at its lowest point in two years. But they CARE a lot about those things. Were I a political strategist or comms person, I might be looking at that…
  • People neither know about nor care about the proposed merger of golf behemoth PGA and upstart LIV tour.
  • People generally don’t care about Pat Sajak announcing his retirement after a 41-year spin as the host of Wheel of Fortune. (But I do. Happy trails, Pat!)

 

June 9: A big disconnect between the media and what people actually care about

Ipsos Care-o-meter published on June 9

  • In recent weeks, three of the major streaming services bade farewell to juggernaut series and characters. Max’s Roy family on HBO’s “Succession,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” on Amazon Prime, and “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV all took their final bows. And all three are very squarely in the don’t know/don’t care quadrant.
  • The NHL and NBA are both in the midst of their finals. Maybe there’s some media coverage on this – your editor is in Chicago which hasn’t needed to worry about our June scheduling in a while. But despite actually decent ratings, these two events are also mostly in the don’t know / don’t care section.
  • We actually A/B tested this. Half of the people were asked generically about the playoffs. The other half had the teams (not exactly historic franchises) named. If you thought that people couldn’t care less about the Golden Knights vs. Florida Panthers or the Heat vs. Nuggets you would be wrong – when given the team names, people DID care less. And also, were less likely to say they knew about it. Which hints at an interesting dynamic of how much people actually “know” when they say they are familiar with something.
  • And one of the biggest and most anticipated product launches and media frenzies was around Apple’s new augmented reality and virtual reality headset, Apple Vision Pro. It’s an amazing product with a significant price tag. But despite literal years of hype, it’s still very firmly in the don’t know/don’t care square.
  • People both know and care about the boycotts of businesses supporting LGBTQ+ people and causes. Democrats care more.
  • People don’t know but do care about New York State banning gas stoves and furnaces in future new residential construction. In the Northeast they care A LOT (71%). This as the House Republicans tried to pass a ban on federal bans of natural gas appliances. (note: there are no such federal bans proposed.)
  • Finally, in a previous wave of the now-famous Care-o-Meter we showed how much people do really care about the debt ceiling crisis. Now that it’s been resolved, we asked again. People still know and still really care about it, putting it farthest into that quadrant of anything going on this wave.

 

May 24: Martha Stewart in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue vs. Donald Trump's sexual assault court case

Chart showing how much people know about and care about Martha Stewart in a swimsuit, Title 42, the Durham Report, Texas laws about trans youth, Rep. George Santos, and more

  • People care a lot about tension with China, way more than the number who know about it, but still firmly in the know/care quadrant.
  • People also both know and care about Trump having been found by a civil jury to have sexually assaulted and defamed E. Jean Carroll. Democrats cared far more (75%) to Republicans (48%).
  • People knew less but cared about the same about the Durham report about the FBI’s investigation into alleged ties between Russia the Trump campaign in 2016. Not too much of a party split on that.
  • Exactly half of America knows about octogenarian Martha Stewart appearing on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. But few care. Curiously, older Americans were much more likely to not care at all (76%) than those under 35 (55%).
  • People cared a bit more about Texas passing legislation restricting gender-affirming care for trans youth than they did when we asked about Montana in the last wave. And they cared more about Montana’s legislation about trans care than they did about Montana’s ban on TikTok. Surprising to me at least was that there wasn’t even much of an age split on not caring about the TikTok ban. Parents cared slightly more.
  • We did an A/B test on asking about the person who attacked the home office staff of a Democratic congressman. We wondered if people would care differently if we mentioned his party affiliation. In a positive affirmation of society, no, care patterns didn’t really change. Democrats cared more regardless and only cared slightly more in the test for mentioning his party.
  • And finally, sitting alone in the “don’t know, don’t care” quadrant is the Eurovision competition. If I dropped a Waterloo reference in here, how many of you would get it?

 

May 8: Tucker Carlson goes off the air vs. King Charles' coronation

Quadrant chart showing how much people know about vs. care about King Charles' coronation, Tucker Carlson leaving Fox News, Don Lemon getting fired from CNN, and more

This wave, alone in the Don’t Know/Don’t Care area we have Don Lemon’s departure from CNN (Democrats cared slightly more) but Tucker Carlson’s rift with Fox is in the Know/Don’t Care quadrant (Republicans cared more) along with the coronation of King Charles III. We know and care about the writer’s strike, the debt ceiling negotiations, rising interest rates and the rise of AI. And we don’t know, but care about, Montana passing laws restricting gender-affirming care for minors, the failure of First Republic Bank, and a prominent AI researcher sounding an alarm about the technology.
The big outlier was also an AI story as IBM announced it would pause hiring for jobs that it thought AI could do instead. Few (19%) had heard of this story, but 63% decided they care! Which is part of the beauty of the Care-o-Meter. Once we know about things, even perhaps just from the survey (or you see it in your social feed, or whatever) you can quickly have an opinion and even a strong one.
 

April 26: AI-created Drake songs vs. a SpaceX explosion

Scatter chart showing how much people know about vs. care about AI-created songs by Drake and the Weeknd, a SpaceX explosion, a Fox News settlement, and moreA slight majority said they were familiar with many of the top stories of the week, including Fox News’ settlement with the election equipment maker Dominion (56%), and the leaking of top-secret information on social media chat platform Discord (50%).
We are far less aware of AI creating a song in the style of real performers Drake and The Weeknd (26%) or Twitter taking away the blue checkmark icons that denoted verified users on the platform. It was alllllll anyone on Twitter was tweeting about, but only 43% of the general public said they knew about it.
We know people tend to overstate familiarity. And can often overstate how much they care. And of course, you don’t need facts to have an opinion. But the discrepancies are really interesting. While only half knew about the Discord leaks, three in four cared. Conversely, even though 40% said they knew about the Twitter icons, only 22% said they cared.

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab

Society