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.

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

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Building the Relationships for Collaborative Governance: Case Studies from Across America

November 17, 2021

In recent years, a more collaborative form of democratic engagement has emerged, primarily at the local and state level, as well as internationally. Collaborative governance, or co-governance, refers to a broad range of models of civic engagement that allow people outside and inside government to work together in designing policy. This new form of engagement seeks to break down the boundaries between advocates and officials and is not only more democratic, but also more inclusive and open to those served by the government. How are co-governance relationships best developed, sustained, and supported? The clearest way to answer this question is not in theory, but from the learned experiences of co-governance, at the neighborhood, city, and state level. In this report, we highlight five of these cases in communities across the country where progress has been made to improve the quality of life and strengthen the bonds of community for all through the collaborative work of democracy.

Civic Participation; Government

How Americans Envision a More Perfect Union: A Common Path Forward for the Country

May 26, 2021

The American people have taken their fair share of knocks over the past two years, from the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic downturn to the nation's increasingly fractured politics and rising polarization across much of society. Talk of national unity is seen as an illusory goal as various factions press their ideological agendas on government. Americans themselves are right to wonder: "Is there anything we can do together in our politics? Can we find even a temporary conception of the common good and move forward with a set of policies that help all people and reduce inequalities between people and places?"This study conducted by the Center for American Progress and GBAO Strategies examines a range of policy issues that could shape the post COVID-19 recovery and rebuilding effort. It suggests that there is a unified path forward if our leaders choose to focus on the core aspects of national renewal: making major investments in the sources and sectors of good-paying jobs; linking U.S. domestic and foreign policy more tightly to better protect workers and U.S. interests; upgrading national infrastructure; and supporting American families as they try to get back on their feet.This report will look at the wider economic context shaping American public opinion, providing detailed explorations of voter attitudes on major domestic and foreign policy priorities; beliefs about America's role in the world and the proper role of government; and voter reactions to a series of 20 concrete ideas that could potentially drive more unified national action.

The Threads of Texas: A story of enduring identity in a changing state

April 26, 2021

The Threads of Texas is a research project launched by More in Common to understand change in Texas: the divergent views toward change that are pulling Texans apart, and the shared identity and dreams for the future that can bring Texans together.Texas is continuously in a state of change — economically, politically, demographically. As Texas grapples with major changes, how do Texans across age, race, and political parties hold onto what they perceive as "truly Texan?" How does Texas replicate its DNA to maintain its sense of identity as new people, new ideas, and new industries make their homes in the state? These questions have become more urgent as the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 winter storm challenge the Texas social and economic landscape.These are the questions that inspired More in Common to launch a landmark study of the state of Texas. In 2020 and 2021, we heard from over 4000 Texans from across the state, including experts in Texan culture and leaders of Texas industries. We capture the striking and ultimately hopeful attitudes of Texans: We find that although Texans on far ends of the ideological spectrum feel exhausted by political divisions, most Texans say that the ties that bind us are stronger than what divides us. They believe in a changing Texas where everyone feels they belong.

How States Are Expanding Broadband Access

February 1, 2020

This report from the Pew Charitable Trusts highlights practices for state programs aimed at expanding broadband access to un- and underserved areas.Based on interviews with more than three hundred representatives of state broadband programs, Internet service providers, local governments, and broadband coalitions, the report identified five promising and mutually reinforcing practices: stakeholder outreach and engagement at both the state and local levels; a policy framework with well-defined goals that connects broadband to other policy priorities; planning and capacity building in support of broadband infrastructure projects; funding and operations through grant programs, with an emphasis on accountability and data collection; and program evaluation and evolution to ensure that lessons learned inform the next iteration of goals and activities. The study explores how nine states — California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin — have adapted and implemented different combinations of those practices to close gaps in broadband access.

Media

Does Rising Income Inequality Threaten Democracy?

June 30, 2017

The popular contention that income inequality is turning our democracy into an oligarchy that serves only the rich is buttressed by several well-cited, but fundamentally flawed, academic studies. In fact, claims that rising income inequality threatens our democracy are unfounded. There is no evidence that the rich have greater political influence during times of greater economic inequality. By making poorly founded assumptions about the opinions of the top 1 percent, magnifying the narrow political divide that does exist between the classes, and exaggerating the influence of the affluent, certain political scientists have painted an unduly grim portrait of American democracy. While it is undeniably true that some have more access to power than others, income alone is a poor predictor of proximity to power. And while it is neither possible nor desirable to level the political playing field perfectly, it is possible to lower the stakes of the game by reducing the federal government's power to pick winners and losers in the marketplace.

Government

#PartyatthePolls Report

July 18, 2016

#PartyatthePolls was a series of events where we asked Angelenos for event ideas to improve voter engagement in the 2016 June primary election. Eight proposals received $3500 each to pilot events and improve voter turnout.

Campaigns and Elections

Community Strength and Economic Challenge: Civic Attitudes and Community Involvement in Rural America

June 7, 2011

In any given year, close to one in three Americans volunteer with a local organization and get involved in various activities that benefit their community. Community leaders and policy makers are interested in levels of community engagement because there is a presumption that a community's civic health can translate into community wealth as a result of local residents working together to improve their community's economic sustainability and quality of life. Although rural Americans are slightly more likely than urban and suburban residents to participate in community activities, not all rural communities demonstrate a similarly high level of community trust and engagement.

Civic Participation