With the year coming to a close we pause to take a breath, thank our followers and reflect for a few moments on our efforts in 2016.
The Citizen Cabinet was greatly expanded this year to include a larger national panel, with several thousand participants now taking part in each study. Along with our work in Maryland, Oklahoma and Virginia, we also began operating in the three most populous states, California, New York and Texas as well as Florida and Ohio.
Registered voters from across the country considered policymaking simulations on several topics, including the federal budget, defense spending, U.S. energy policy, and Social Security reform. During the heat of the presidential campaign, we also looked into voter attitudes about American politics and government, using more standard survey techniques. This interesting study revealed an unprecedented level of dissatisfaction with government based on the broadly-held perception that it fails to listen to the people. The next Citizen Cabinet surveys will be on Medicare and U.S. programs to fight poverty.
In May, we released an abridged report on American attitudes toward the Clean Power Plan, as part of “Climate Action 2016,” a large, 3-day conference in College Park and Washington, DC. The event, hosted by the University of Maryland, included climate experts from around the globe. That study was highlighted at a Q&A session with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, moderated by science educator and TV personality Bill Nye.
With more states now part of the Citizen Cabinet program, our outreach on Capitol Hill became even more extensive. We’ve had more than five dozen individual meetings with congressional offices and members of Congress this year, including briefings with key staffers from Speaker Paul Ryan and House Leader Nancy Pelosi’s offices.
We also conducted several major group staff briefings: In February we presented our findings on the federal budget, in March on defense spending and in August on energy policy. In September and October we briefed staffers from the House Ways and Means committee. On September 12, we presented findings on energy policy at a very-well attended event at the Brookings Institution that included William Reilly, former EPA administrator for George HW Bush. On October 18, we partnered with the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget for a special event in the Capitol to present our findings on Social Security reform in front of a standing-room-only audience of more than 100 staffers, policy experts and reporters.
On the media front we were just as active, holding editorial meetings with The New York Times, National Public Radio, The Los Angeles Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Tampa Bay Times, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, San Francisco Chronicle, The Miami Herald and several others.
Reporting of our work appeared in Time Magazine, The Washington Post, Newsweek magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Bloomberg News, Politico, The Hill, Defense News, Fox Business, The Fiscal Times, The Huffington Post and regional papers across the country. For the first time, we also received coverage in Spanish-language outlets including Univision and Agencia EFE. VOP President Steven Kull did two-dozen radio interviews on stations all across the country, including a post-election hour with former GOP Chairman Michael Steele on SiriusXM Radio’s “P.O.T.U.S. Show.”
At press time, our Facebook followers number at 2,085, an increase of 74 percent over the year. On Twitter, we went from 331 followers to 1,036 – a robust 213 percent rate of growth. And speaking of social media, we also created our first findings-based short video this year, “How ‘We the People’ Can Help Save Social Security” which has been shared on various platforms.
As we wave goodbye to 2016, we are very grateful for the encouragement and support of our friends in the public at large. We appreciate hearing from you about concerns you have on how our government serves the people. Your generous financial donations and your continued interest in our work is gratifying and appreciated.
Our sincere thanks for your help in a successful year of giving Americans a more effective voice in government. We look forward to ever greater successes in the year to come!