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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.
The Communities Transforming Policing Fund, Center for Protest Law and Litigation, CS Fund, Piper Fund, and Funders for Justice are calling on our peer philanthropic organizations to partner with us in defense of the movement. The movement to end state violence is unique, but deeply connected to all movements for equality and justice. Every right fought for and won in the United States has come through mass protests and mobilization. Every right taken away and criminalized is enforced by police and often with the use of surveillance, legal targeting, and violence. To reinforce our Democracy and to be in alignment with movements for justice and equality, philanthropy must commit to the long-term legal, safety, and security support of protesters.
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.
Approximately three-quarters of Americans agree that the country is heading in the wrong direction, but there is considerable division over whether the country needs to move backward — toward an idealized, homogeneous past — or forward, toward a more diverse future. Though most Americans favor moving forward, a sizable minority yearn for a country reminiscent of the 1950s, embrace the idea that God created America to be a new promised land for European Christians, view newcomers as a threat to American culture, and believe that society has become too soft and feminine. This minority is composed primarily of self-identified Republicans, white evangelical Protestants, and white Americans without a college degree. The majority of Americans, however, especially younger Americans, the religiously unaffiliated, and Democrats, are more likely to embrace a competing vision for the future of America that is more inclusive.
The words Americans use to describe, debate, and examine our civic values, ideals, and practices are also the words we use to connect, share, and co-create our community and national future. What can we know about how aligned we are on our language choices related to our civic lives? Perhaps another concern underlies this question: are we talking past each other about values we think we share? This was the core inquiry that animated Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE)'s Civic Language Perceptions Project. In November 2021, PACE and Citizen Data surveyed a nationally representative sample of 5000 American voters to understand their perceptions of 21 terms that are commonly used in democracy and civic engagement work, and who they associate using those terms. In March 2022, we released the data to the public and embarked on an effort to analyze and disaggregate the data from multiple angles and perspectives. We now combine the quantitative and qualitative analysis to highlight key findings.
This case study is part of Demos' new Economic Democracy project, which asks how poor and working-class people, especially in Black and brown communities, can exercise greater control over the economic institutions that shape their lives. This framework has 3 goals:Break up and regulate new corporate power, including Amazon, Google, and Facebook.Expand the meaning of public goods and ensure that services are equitably and publicly administered.Strengthen "co-governance" strategies so that people and public agencies can collectively make decisions about the economy.This case study spotlights how For Us, Not Amazon (FUNA) coalition resisted the power and influence of Amazon in order to secure affordable housing, investments in the health, education, and economic futures of Black and brown communities, and stop a police surveillance partnership.
Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand how the public views control of Congress, issues for the upcoming midterm elections and confidence in how the elections will be conducted. For this analysis, we surveyed 7,647 adults, including 5,681 registered voters, from Aug. 1-14, 2022. The survey was primarily conducted on the Center's nationally representative American Trends Panel, with an oversample of Hispanic adults from Ipsos' KnowledgePanel.Respondents on both panels are recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. See the Methodology section for additional details
This report challenges past narratives suggesting Chicago's civic life is precarious and offers a broader analysis of civic life using a racial equity lens. According to the analysis, race and class differences in civic engagement disappear or reverse when including a wide range of less formal activities and forms of collective organizing practiced among Black, Latinx, and working-class people in Chicago.Since the 1960s, traditional measures of civic engagement have shown declining rates of civic health. These accounts of civic decline often focus exclusively on voting and donating one's time, talent, and income to traditional nonprofit organizations. This report provides new ways to assess civic life in Chicago, including participation in social movements like the immigrant rights movement, the growth in the number of nonprofits established, and social cohesion as captured through the hosting of block parties.Through interviews and analysis of nonprofits in Chicago, the report captures the perspective of organizers, academics, and funders who provide their unique perspectives on the state of civic engagement in Chicago. By framing civic engagement through a racial equity lens, the report provides a broader view of civic participation that can be used to catalyze and drive action.