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"VOTE!" by Paul Sableman licensed under CC BY 2.0
"VOTE!" by Paul Sableman licensed under CC BY 2.0
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In response to rising polarization, a number of grassroots organizations have formed to bridge the growing political divide. Individuals dedicated to this cause have been called "bridge-builders," and they aim to facilitate dialogue across lines of difference. As the field has grown, however, several concerns have been raised about whether bridge-building is a viable solution in the context of systemic inequities. These concerns, questions, and criticisms of bridge-building point to the tension—perceived or real—between efforts to repair intergroup relationships and efforts to correct inequitable structures. In this report, we grapple with the critiques of bridge-building, with the hope that it will spur sustained discussion within and across the bridge-building and social justice communities.
A growing level of political dysfunction and hyper-partisan polarization has led us to a critical point in the way we govern. With democracy under threat and deep distrust of democratic institutions, how can we instill innovative reforms centered around real influence and decision-making power? At a moment of extreme vulnerability, communities and civic organizations need to have genuine political agency by directly influencing policy decision-making. Collaborative governance—or "co-governance"—offers an opportunity to create new forms of civic power. This report offers lessons from across local, city, state, and federal policymaking and highlights effective models of co-governance from community leaders and those in government.
Our recent survey found that people have more in common than they think when it comes to their opinions on U.S. history. However, they incorrectly think members of the opposing party have views much different than they do - this is called a perception gap and it creates imagined enemies of their fellow Americans.
Every election cycle, campaigns try to persuade undecided voters to support their side. Whether undecided voters are receptive to campaigns and how they end up voting—if they turn out at all—often proves pivotal in deciding elections. But who are these undecided voters and what policies do they want? Using a rich public opinion dataset, we analyze the demographics and policy preferences of undecided voters and how they differ from partisan voters. Undecided voters tend to be younger, have lower levels of educational attainment, and lower household incomes compared to Democratic and Republican voters. Undecided voters are also less interested in politics and largely equivocal about the Democratic and Republican parties. In terms of policy, undecided voters are not unified by shared positions towards social and economic issues. Instead, they have many different combinations of policy preferences, making it challenging to determine what they want from politics. Reforms like fusion balloting or proportional representation could allow for the emergence of new parties that could find ways to engage and provide better representation for these voters.
To win congressional majorities, Democratic and Republican parties must stitch together coalitions that are broad enough to accommodate their stronghold districts and swing districts, but distinct enough to differentiate themselves from each other. How each party builds these coalitions depends, in part, on the demographic characteristics and policy views of voters in districts where they garner most support and how these overlap with voters in competitive districts.In this report, we show how Democratic and Republican districts differ from each other and where they overlap with competitive districts. Democratic districts tend to be more affluent and more diverse than Republican districts, which are mostly poorer and predominantly white. Competitive districts comprise roughly equal shares of districts that are more and less affluent than the district average, but they tend to be whiter than the average district. The winner-take-all electoral system accentuates these differences and reduces the diverse constellation of districts to a binary. This results in an inadequate representation of voters in districts that are far from the median Democratic or Republican district.
As election-denying secretary of state candidates spouted rhetoric that eroded people's faith in our free and fair elections, political operatives behind the scenes were raking in the dough.A new Issue One review of state campaign finance filings reveals a slice of which companies and political consultants across the country converted election denialism into profit during the 2022 midterm elections.
This report provides an overview of ranked choice voting (RCV) in 2022, highlighting RCV election results and adoptions, with special attention to developments in Alaska and Virginia.
A survey of more than 1,000 adult Ohioans on their views of the recent midterm elections in their state and their attitudes towards the political climate.
As people across the globe have increasingly turned to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and other platforms to get their news and express their opinions, the sphere of social media has become a new public space for discussing – and often arguing bitterly – about political and social issues. And in the mind of many analysts, social media is one of the major reasons for the declining health of democracy in nations around the world.However, as a new Pew Research Center survey of 19 advanced economies shows, ordinary citizens see social media as both a constructive and destructive component of political life, and overall most believe it has actually had a positive impact on democracy. Across the countries polled, a median of 57% say social media has been more of a good thing for their democracy, with 35% saying it has been a bad thing.There are substantial cross-national differences on this question, however, and the United States is a clear outlier: Just 34% of U.S. adults think social media has been good for democracy, while 64% say it has had a bad impact. In fact, the U.S. is an outlier on a number of measures, with larger shares of Americans seeing social media as divisive.
Questions about the continuity of our key institutions have arisen at pivotal moments throughout our nation's history. Watershed events such as the Cold War, the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy brought continuity-of-government issues into sharp public relief. Ultimately, these events led to significant reforms, including the 25th Amendment and a new Presidential Succession Act.A decade after the fall of the Soviet Union, the 9/11 attacks forced continuity issues back into the public consciousness. One result was the creation of the first Continuity of Government Commission, the predecessor to the current commission. More than two decades after 9/11, we still have to ask ourselves, Do we have the legal and constitutional framework in place to ensure that our key institutions of government could recover from a catastrophic event?America has in place legal and constitutional provisions that address presidential succession. These provisions serve us well in the straightforward case of a president's death while in office. However, the current system does not adequately address less straightforward scenarios, such as a mass attack on multiple people in the line of succession, the simultaneous incapacity of the president and vice president, and unique succession issues that could arise between Election Day and Inauguration Day.In this report, the Continuity of Government Commission recommends several changes to the Presidential Succession Act that address these vulnerabilities. These recommendations would not require constitutional amendments; they are achievable through simple legislative changes.
The 2020 elections raised fundamental questions about the resolution of disputes over presidential electors. Challenges to the legitimacy of President Joe Biden's victory arose because of the 12th Amendment's silence to the Constitution, saying in the passive voice that, after the vice president opens the electoral ballots before both houses of Congress, "the votes shall then be counted."We argue that the best reading of the Constitution finds that the vice president has the primary authority to resolve disputes over the legitimacy of electoral votes. While this is a difficult question with several alternative solutions, the constitutional structure and design should provide the answer. The Constitution rejects popular selection of the president by the electorate as a whole, Congress, or the House of Representatives.Instead, the framers created a state-centric process for choosing the president that relies on state legislatures to choose electors. Allowing Congress to reject electors sent by the states on grounds created by Congress alone would undermine the founders' design. Instead, the Constitution leaves the resolution of disputes over competing electoral slates up to the vice president as the least-worst option among the various alternatives. Short of dueling electors, the Electoral College system relies on the states to create a system for choosing electors and settling questions over their legitimacy.This reading of the Constitution has important implications for recent proposals to amend the Electoral Count Act (ECA). These amendments would raise the minimum number of votes required to challenge electoral votes in the House and Senate, and they would set out presumptions in favor of different branches of state government in the certification of electors.These proposals, while perhaps useful in the context of the ECA, do not address its core constitutional defect. Even if Congress adopts these proposals, it has still seized the power to reject electors even if a state has sent a single slate forward for opening and counting in the special joint session under the 12th Amendment. This violates the separation of powers and the founders' design that presidential selection rest on the people acting through the states, rather than Congress.
Ten states hold primary runoff elections if no candidate wins a majority of the votes in a major party's primary: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, North Carolina (30% threshold), and South Dakota (35% threshold).This report studies three decades of primary runoff elections. Based on turnout declines, disparate outcomes for voters of color, and high costs of runoff elections, FairVote recommends ranked choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting, as a way to preserve the goals of runoff elections while solving their pervasive issues.