Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez more famous than top Republicans, Trump cabinet

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is better-known than some of the highest-ranking lawmakers and most powerful cabinet secretaries in Washington, according to a new INSIDER poll conducted on SurveyMonkey audience this past weekend.

Nearly 53% of Americans said they’re familiar with the 29-year-old democratic socialist — more than twice the number who are familiar with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the top-ranking House Republican.

After just over two months in office, Ocasio-Cortez is also more than twice as well-known as Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the longest-serving Democrat in Congress, and more than 15 times as well-known as the longest-serving Republican in Congress, Alaska Rep. Don Young.

Meanwhile, the Bronx native is better known than four of the most powerful cabinet secretaries.

About 47% of Americans are familiar with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, about 26% are aware of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, about 10% are familiar with acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, and just under 5% are familiar with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. Overall, those four individuals oversee some of the largest bureaucracies in the US government.

Read more: More than a third of millennials share Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s worry about having kids while the threat of climate change looms

Of the people included on the survey, just three top lawmakers in Washington — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — are better known than Ocasio-Cortez.

Pelosi is best known — around three-quarters of Americans are familiar with her, while about 58% know who McConnell is and 56% are familiar with Schumer.

13% of Americans said they did not recognize any of the names on INSIDER’s list.

Ocasio-Cortez became an overnight celebrity when she stunned the political world last June by beating veteran Rep. Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary. The millennial political newcomer continued to build her fame with her active social media presence. Her Twitter following has ballooned from 60,000 on the day of her June 26 primary to 3.5 million by early March.

A mural depicting the face of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is displayed on a wall in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan in February 2019.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The freshman lawmaker’s name recognition is likely also a result of the outsize attention she’s received from the media. In particular, Ocasio-Cortez has quickly caught up to Pelosi as one of the main subjects of articles from conservative media outlets, including Fox News and the Daily Caller.

Other polling this year found similar results concerning Ocasio-Cortez’s name recognition.

An early February CNN poll found that nearly 60% of Americans had an opinion about Ocasio-Cortez — 27% viewed her positively while 32% viewed her negatively.

And a January Morning Consult/Politico survey found that Ocasio-Cortez was better known than several likely 2020 presidential candidates, including Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar, and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke. The poll found that conservatives formed opinions about Ocasio-Cortez more quickly than Democrats and independents did.

In order to get a sense of Ocasio-Cortez’s relative popularity, INSIDER asked Americans whether they had heard of a handful of high-ranking politicians and cabinet members. The list included the House and Senate leaderships for both parties, the longest-serving member in each chamber, and four of President Donald Trump’s cabinet members who oversee large parts of the federal bureaucracy.

For comparison, we also included Rep. Jim Jordan, an outspoken Republican who helps lead the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus and recently drew headlines during former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s hearing. 15% of those surveyed said they were familiar with Jordan.

SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,082 respondents collected March 10, 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 3.12 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.


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