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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Waking the Sleeping Giant: Poor and Low-Income Voters in the 2020 Elections

October 15, 2021

The 2020 presidential elections saw the highest voter turnout in U.S. election history, including among poor and low-income voters (LIV) . Of the 168 million voters who cast a ballot in the general election, 58 million—or 35% of the voting electorate—were LIV. This cuts against common misperceptions that poor and low-income people are apathetic about politics or inconsequential to electoral outcomes.To tap into the potential impact of these voters in the 2020 elections, the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (PPC:NCMR) launched a non-partisan voter outreach drive across 16 states. The drive targeted urban and rural areas and reached over 2.1 million voters, the vast majority of whom were eligible LIV. The drive had a statistically significant impact in drawing eligible LIV into the active voting electorate, showing that intentional efforts to engage these voters—around an agenda that includes living wages, health care, strong anti-poverty programs, voting rights and policies that fully address injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation and the war economy—can be effective across state borders and racial lines.

Civic Participation

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