This article addresses hitherto overlooked factors that might contribute to lower political knowledge among citizens with socio-economic problems. Based on findings in psychology and behavioral economics, we argue that economic worries undermine the motivation and cognitive resources to acquire knowledge. The argument is tested in a representative online survey and an experiment during the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak in Germany. The results of the survey are in line with the theoretical expectations. Subjective crisis exposure, particularly when it comes with anxiety and ruminating thoughts, is associated with lower “surveillance” knowledge about politics. A follow-up experiment designed to randomly activate worries about the economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis could not establish a causal relationship.