(CNN) – While the 2012 Republican presidential election is at the center of national media coverage, it appears voters are significantly in the dark when it comes to the GOP race.
According to a new poll from the Pew Research Center, fewer than half of registered voters identified South Carolina as the next primary state on the road to the White House, with slightly more Republicans, at 50%, than Democrats, at 43%, offering the correct answer.
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Sixty-nine percent of voters knew Newt Gingrich served as House speaker, but only about half could say in which state Mitt Romney served as governor. Fifty-three percent of registered voters, 59% of Republicans and 50% of Democrats correctly named Massachusetts.
Despite Rep. Ron Paul's strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, only 44% of voters knew the Texas congressman as the White House hopeful who opposes U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, a cornerstone of his candidacy.
Age, gender and education gaps were also evident in the poll, which indicated Republican and Republican-leaning voters 65 years of age or older were more likely to answer the questions correctly. Twenty-six percent of GOP voters under 40 correctly answered at least three of the four questions, as opposed to 62% of those 65 years or older.
Republican women were less likely to answer the questions correctly, as were non-college graduates. And voters who aligned themselves with the tea party had far more knowledge about the 2012 race than those who said they disagreed or had no opinion of the grassroots movement.
The Pew poll surveyed 1,165 registered voters and 549 Republican and Republican-leaning voters between Jan. 4 and Jan. 8 with a sampling error of 3.5 for registered voters and 5.5 percentage points for GOP voters.