A recent study by the non-partisan Center for the Study of the American Electorate shows that only 14.8 percent of eligible U.S. voters have voted in the first 25 statewide primaries of this year. This represents a continuous slide over the last decades. In 1970, more than 30 percent voted in the off-year primaries. Even since 2010 there has been a drop of 18 percent.

A look at the trend reflected in the chart is enough to concern anyone who cares about a healthy democracy in America. Research shows if people think their voice counts in government, then they are more likely to vote. The Citizen Cabinets initiative is a way to ensure that the people’s voices do count. This should be a big help in re-engaging American voters so that trend line heads back upward in the coming years. 

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Chart by the Center for the Study of the American Electorate

Home page image by Vox Efx via flickr


At an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, the results of a new study of American attitudes on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program was announced. You can watch video of the full event here.

The study used the same online policymaking simulation method developed for Voice Of the People’s Citizen Cabinet initiative, and was conducted by the Program for Public Consultation, in association with the Center for International & Security Studies at Maryland. It found strong bi-partisan consensus among respondents.


The persistent gridlock in Congress on a wide-range of pressing problems, cries out for explanation. A common answer is that members of Congress are simply reflecting their own constituents in a country deeply divided between “red” and “blue” districts, polarized on the issues that Congress is failing to face. This seems intuitively valid given that we are supposed to be a democracy.

A recent study by Voice of the People and the Program for Public Consultation, affiliated with the University of Maryland, sought to find out how often most people in red districts (represented by a Republican) disagreed with those in blue districts (represented by a Democrat) on questions about what the government should do. The answer was: not very often. 

The study analyzed 388 poll questions that asked what the government should do in regard to a wide range of policy issues, including hot button issues like healthcare, immigration and abortion. These came from numerous sources including the National Election Studies, Pew, major media outlets, and others. Respondents were divided based on whether they lived in blue or red districts. In a small minority of cases data was only available to allow the division into red or blue states.

If the polarization in Congress is driven by polarization between the constituencies they represent you would expect the majorities or pluralities in red and blue districts and states to be at odds with each other quite often. But the number of cases in which this was the case was just 14 out of the 388 questions—less than 4 percent of the time.

To read the full op-ed, click here.

By Steven Kull, president and founder of Voice Of the People

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Photo by Ron Cogswell via flickr


TV remoteJudging from the kinds of things that are said on-screen, it might seem like Fox News and MSNBC viewers could hardly agree on anything. But not always. In the recently released survey on how to deal with Iran, people who watch Fox News at least a few times a week and people who watch MSNBC a few times a week mostly agree on how to deal with Iran.

Sixty-one percent of regular Fox viewers and 75 percent of regular MSNBC viewers agreed that the U.S. should continue to try to make a deal that would allow Iran to enrich uranium to a limited extent, provided that Iran permits intrusive inspections to ensure that it is not trying to build a nuclear weapon. On the other hand, 37 percent of Fox viewers and 23 percent of MSNBC viewers favored imposing new sanctions to get Iran to give up enrichment completely. In the survey, respondents went through a policymaking simulation, just like the kind that those participating in the Citizen Cabinet initiative will do.

Similarly, 58 percent of Fox viewers and 73 percent of MSNBC viewers agreed that the U.S. should cooperate with Iran in an effort to help the Iraqi government regain control of Iraqi territory that has been taken over by a militant group that is an offshoot of al Qaeda.

So even if we don’t agree on which channel to get our news, it appears we can agree on what America needs to do to keep safe.

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Photo by flash.pro via flickr


Using the same online policymaking simulation method developed for Voice Of the People’s Citizen Cabinet initiative, the Program for Public Consultation (PPC), in association with the Center for International & Security Studies at Maryland, released the results of a new study on American attitudes regarding the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program and found strong bi-partisan consensus.

The study finds 61 percent favor making a deal with Iran to limit Iran’s enrichment capacity and impose additional intrusive inspections in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions. This includes 62 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of independents.

The study is unique in that respondents were first given a briefing on the issue and evaluated arguments for and against the two major options — making a deal with Iran or pursuing further sanctions. The briefing and arguments were vetted with Congressional staffers from both parties and other experts with differing perspectives.  This is the same process VOP is using for its Citizen Cabinet project.

“Americans find convincing the arguments for making a deal as well as for ending the negotiations and ramping up sanctions,” said PPC Director and VOP President Steven Kull. “But when asked to finally decide, a clear majority breaks in favor of a deal.”

The results were presented at an event in Washington at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The entire policymaking simulation PPC used for this study will be made available at VOP.org.

The full study can be found at: http://www.public-consultation.org/studies/Iran_july14.html


In this brief clip, Steven Kull talks about the Voice Of the People/Program for Public Consultation study that found little polarization in the views of people who live in red districts and states with those who live in blue districts and states.


A new study finds remarkably little difference between the views of people who live in red (Republican) districts or states, and those who live in blue (Democratic) districts or states on questions about what policies the government should pursue. The study analyzed 388 questions asking what the government should do in regard to a wide range of policy issues and found that that most people living in red districts/states disagreed with most people in blue districts/states on only four percent of the questions.

“A Not So Divided America,” contradicts the conventional wisdom that the political gridlock between Democrats and Republicans in Congress arises from deep disagreements over policy among the general public. The study was a joint project of Voice Of the People and the Program for Public Consultation (PPC), affiliated with the University of Maryland.

“Clearly, the gridlock in Congress is not driven by the people,” said PPC Director Steven Kull, who led the study. “Although some research has shown partisan polarization in response to broad ideological slogans, on specific questions about what government should do, the study found hardly any difference between red and blue districts.”

The study analyzed questions from dozens of surveys from numerous sources including the National Election Studies, Pew, major media outlets, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs as well as the Program for Public Consultation. Responses were analyzed based on whether the respondents lived in red or blue districts or states.   

  • On only four percent of the questions (14 out of 388) did a majority or plurality of those living in red congressional districts/states disagree with the majority or plurality in the blue districts/states.
  • For a large majority of questions – 69 percent – (266 of 388), there were no statistically significant differences between the views in the red districts/states and the blue districts/states.
  • For 23 percent (90 of 388), there were statistically significant differences in the size of the majority or plurality, but the dominant position in the red and blue districts/states was the same.

“The fact is, Americans are more united than divided,” said Richard Parsons, executive director, Voice Of the People. “Giving the people a greater voice would help break the gridlock in Washington.”

The study was conducted by the Program for Public Consultation, a joint program of the Center on Policy Attitudes and the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland.  

The full study can be found at:

http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Red-Blue-Report.pdf

The report’s appendix with the actual survey questions anaylzed can be found at:

http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Red-Blue-Appendix.pdf


A greater voice for the people in making government work for the common good is an idea that is powerful and popular, not only in the United States, but as we’re finding out, around the world as well.

Recently, in Hong Kong, people have been growing frustrated with the way Beijing has been trying to reduce the role of the people in nominating candidates for elective office. An unofficial group in Hong Kong initiated a referendum on the issue and nearly 800,000 people weighed in. Clearly the people want to be heard.

Here in the U.S., citizens are demanding a greater voice for the people as well. So it’s not surprising that when the concept of Citizen Cabinets is explained to Americans, they not only like the idea, they love it. Overwhelming majorities among Republicans, Democrats and independents, from all across the political spectrum, support creating a Citizen Cabinet, and feel it will help improve the situation in Washington.




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