Volume 3: December 2010

Spotlight on the Center for Political Participartion (CPP)

written by Mary Solberg, CPP Program Coordinator

CPP Fellow Matt Lacombe '11 leads a discussion on political civility

Building on its April 2010 survey, “Nastiness, Name-calling & Negativity,” the CPP this fall released the findings of two more nationwide surveys done in conjunction with Indiana University—Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). The new polls, conducted by SurveyUSA in September and November, suggest that Americans see politics as increasingly nasty and that the current political tone may be harmful to our democracy.

Some 63 percent of respondents in the November poll, conducted during the last four days of the November midterm elections, believe politics has become less civil since Barack Obama took office nearly two years ago. This is up from 48 percent in the April survey, and 58 percent in the September poll.

In related work, CPP fellow Matt Lacombe was published in the November 5th edition of Inside Higher Ed.com on the reprecussions of Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity,” held October 30th in Washington, D.C. Bemoaning the low youth turnout in the midterm elections, Lacombe, however, believes that the rally did not “breed timidity,” as had been asserted by critics. Instead, Lacombe wrote, it “increased youth engagement of the type that rejects a toxic political culture.”

Further, Lacombe wrote, “Politicians are not going to pander to a portion of the electorate they don’t believe will turn out to vote, so if we want to transform Stewart’s rally from a sunny Saturday on the Mall into a new political reality, we’ve got to make our voices heard.”