This collection on American democracy challenges and complements blog posts and opinion pieces that are typical staples of the 24/7 news cycle in the lead up to US elections. You'll find reports about election and campaign administration, voting access and participation, government performance and perceptions, the role of the media in civil society, and more.

Help us make this collection as politically inclusive as possible! Please suggest an addition. (More about what we're looking for...)

"VOTE!" by Paul Sableman licensed under CC BY 2.0

Search this collection

Clear all

69 results found

reorder grid_view
Featured

Enhancing Accessibility in U.S. Elections

July 8, 2021

In 2020, voters with disabilities turned out in force in one of the most consequential elections in U.S. history. According to data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 62 percent of disabled voters cast a ballot in the November 2020 election, compared with just about 56 percent of disabled voters who participated in the 2016 presidential election. 2020's high turnout is demonstrative of disabled voters' unwavering resolve to make their voices heard and to fully participate in American democracy. While all voters—regardless of disability status—experienced difficulties in registering to vote and casting ballots last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, disabled voters faced particularly significant challenges. This report examines the barriers disabled voters face when participating in elections and proposes solutions for improving the voting experience and encouraging voter participation.

Campaigns and Elections; Civic Participation
Featured

NewsLens 2020: How Americans Process the News

May 26, 2021

A shift toward online news consumption, combined with greater political polarization, has altered the media landscape. As part of its Trust, Media and Democracy initiative, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation partnered with Gallup to create NewsLens — an experimental platform and news aggregator first developed in 2017 to facilitate novel research on how people interact with the news online in a manner that offers insights to academics, technology policymakers and journalists.In theis report, Gallup examines data gathered through NewsLens during the 2020 presidential campaign to assess how much partisanship influences the way people engage with news content and whether common ground still exists over which stories are considered good journalism.

Campaigns and Elections; Media

Which Women Can Run?: The Fundraising Gap in the 2020 Elections’ Competitive Primaries

June 9, 2021

Women ran, donated and voted in record numbers during the 2020 elections, despite a global pandemic and the ensuing recession that has fallen on overt gender and racial lines. Still, intersectional racial and gender fundraising gaps persisted when women, particularly women of color, ran in 2020 primary and general elections. Campaign finance remains a barrier of entry for many demographic groups of women, especially in primary elections. OpenSecrets' new gender and race report, Which Women Can Run? The Fundraising Gap in the 2020 Elections' Competitive Primaries, examines the variables that create barriers early on for women, especially women of color, and the variables that lead these candidates toward successful campaigns. Our goal is to address and document how gender and race impact primaries.

Campaigns and Elections; Civic Participation

Improving the Voting Experience After 2020

April 6, 2021

A report by the Bipartisan Policy Center's Task Force on Elections that outlines ways to enhance local election administration in light of issues surrounding the 2020 U.S. election. The authors list twelve recommendations on topics ranging from emergency election procedures to ballot return standardization to expanding early voting and more, with the goal of meaningfully improving voters' access to a secure ballot.

Campaigns and Elections

America’s Electoral Future The Coming Generational Transformation

October 19, 2020

A report building on a previous 2018 report issued by the authors as part of the States of Change project. The 2018 report examined various future presidential election scenarios (from 2020 through 2036) that could occur due to demographic changes at the state and national level over the next several decades. This revised 2020 report updates the scenarios with new demographic projections based on the latest census data, explicitly incorporates gender into the projections and scenarios for the first time, and examines the likely evolution of generational cohorts over the next several decades. 

Campaigns and Elections

The 100 Million Project: The Untold Story of American Non-Voters

February 19, 2020

In 2016, nearly 100 million eligible Americans did not cast a vote for president, representing 43% of the eligible voting-age population. They represent a sizeable minority whose voice is not heard in our representative democracy. Most of our attention, in politics and in research, tends to fall almost exclusively on "likely" voters perceived to make the most difference in the outcome. As a result, relatively little is known about those with a history of non-voting. Yet their non-participation is a key feature of our democracy, and raises important questions about the basic health of a participatory society.To help understand this large segment of the population, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation commissioned Bendixen & Amandi International to develop a comprehensive study of those who do not vote. This study surveyed 12,000 chronic non-voters nationally and in 10 swing states, soliciting their views, attitudes and behaviors on a wide range of topics. For comparison purposes, a group of 1,000 active voters who consistently participate in national elections and a group of 1,000 young eligible voters (18-24 years old) were also surveyed. Findings were further explored through in-depth conversations with non-voters in focus groups held around the country.

Campaigns and Elections

Voting Rights Under Fire: Philanthropy’s Role in Protecting and Strengthening American Democracy

November 1, 2019

There is a new urgency today for American philanthropies to protect the right to vote for all eligible citizens. The philanthropic community has worked alongside the government to protect these rights for decades, but since a 2013 Supreme Court ruling eliminated key parts of the Voting Rights Act, there has been a dramatic increase across the country in barriers to voting. These new barriers often disproportionately affect low-income voters, rural voters, communities of color, young people, and people with disabilities.American philanthropies now have an opportunity to protect and strengthen U.S. democracy by providing badly needed investments in the country's voting infrastructure, paying attention to these issues beyond election time, and joining with others to support litigation against illegal voting barriers.

Campaigns and Elections

Engaging New Voters: If Nonprofits Don’t, Who Will?

May 30, 2019

One of the most compelling questions asked after every election year is "what will it take to get young voters to head to the polls?" Every year is an important year for voters. Which means every year the important question to ask is, how do we ensure the most eligible citizens turn out to vote?Nonprofit VOTE's updated "Engaging New Voters" report tackles that question and proposes a simple but hard-fought answer: "contact." The report looks at 64 nonprofits across six states who reached out into the communities they serve via nonpartisan voter engagement activities and found amazing results:Voters contacted by nonprofits are TWICE as likely to be nonwhite, TWICE as likely to be under 25 and TWICE as likely to have $30,000 in household income. These voters were also MORE likely to vote – 11 percentage points more likely. Asian, Latino and Black voters contacted by nonprofits show up 13-16 percentage points higher than those who weren't; those under 25 turned out 20 percentage points higher.

Campaigns and Elections

Disinformation, Fake News and Influence Campaigns on Twitter

October 4, 2018

How did misinformation spread during the 2016 presidential election and has anything changed since? A new study of more than 10 million tweets from 700,000 Twitter accounts that linked to more than 600 misinformation and conspiracy news outlets answers this question.The report reveals a concentrated "fake news" ecosystem, linking more than 6.6 million tweets to fake news and conspiracy news publishers in the month before the 2016 election. The problem persisted in the aftermath of the election with 4 million tweets to fake and conspiracy news publishers found from mid-March to mid-April 2017. A large majority of these accounts are still active today. 

Campaigns and Elections; Media

American Democracy in Crisis: The Challenges of Voter Knowledge, Participation, and Polarization

July 17, 2018

"American Democracy in Crisis: The Challenges of Voter Knowledge, Participation, and Polarization"— the first of a series of surveys from PRRI/The Atlantic examining challenges to democratic institutions and practices— finds an alarming number of Americans do not know what factors qualify people for or disqualify people from voting. The survey also finds large divides by political party, race, and ethnicity regarding the biggest problems facing the U.S. electoral system. At the same time, there is strong, bipartisan support for a range of policies that increase access to the ballot.

Campaigns and Elections; Civic Participation

Young Americans and the Midterm Election

July 1, 2018

The next generation of potential voters can turn their political pessimism into action in the 2018 midterms, according to the latest wave of the MTV/AP-NORC Youth Political Pulse Survey.Young people age 15 to 34 express widespread pessimism toward the political system and discourse in the United States today. Fifty-seven percent say they are doubtful that people of different political views can come together and work out their differences, and less than 1 in 5 hold out hope that these political divisions will heal over the next five years. Just 1 in 10 have felt positive or excited about the state of the country in the past month, and about 7 in 10 say American politics are dysfunctional.

Campaigns and Elections

The Humble Members of Society": Understanding Populism in the United States

June 1, 2018

This report traces the antiestablishment roots of populism, arguing that it is a manifestation of the principal problem inherent to representative government. In the Anglo-American political universe, it first appeared in the early 18th century in the ways the Country Whigs modified the English Commonwealth tradition to attack the economic policies of Robert Walpole. Migrating to America after the Seven Years' War, it manifested itself in the Anti-Federalist opposition to the Constitution, Jeffersonian complaints about Hamiltonian economics, and Jacksonian democracy. In all these instances, populist antiestablishment sentiment envisioned a kind of conspiracy of the wealthy, well-born, and connected to hijack republican government, denying the rightful rule of the people and ensconcing the elite in permanent power. As industrial capitalism facilitated vast inequalities of wealth and power, the ancient anxieties have been notably persistent—such as the agrarian Populists and Bull Moose Progressives, the George Wallace phenomenon, and finally the tea party and Trump movement. While the complaints of each faction are different in the specifics, the underlying grievance, that the privileged few have interfered with the connection between the people and their elected leaders, has been notably consistent.

Campaigns and Elections; Civic Participation; Government