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Research Reports

Indiana Civic Health Index

Forward: The American experiment is a testament to a diverse group of people working together through our many voluntary associations, religious assemblies, political parties, and other groups to make our communities, cities, states, and ultimately our country a better place for everyone. It is this “civic fabric” that holds our country together and makes it strong. Civic involvement does not simply happen, however. It takes each generation to demonstrate and teach future generations what it is to be an active, engaged, and enlightened citizen.  This approach to the American experiment in democracy has succeeded only because so many people over so many generations decided to become engaged on matters of common interest.  They studied current events and participated in debate on matters great and small, from the town hall to the national capital. We believe that America will be a stronger nation with a brighter future if the country’s institutions and its practices encourage the robust civic involvement that has served us so well for so long.  This second edition of the Indiana Civic Health Index seeks to once again measure how we are doing on this score. In this latest “report card” we are able to analyze some of the trends that begin to take shape over a period of analysis. Some of these trends are positive and things on which Hoosiers can continue to build, while others are cause for concern and areas we need to improve. We hope that by identifying these trends in how Hoosiers are performing our civic duty we will produce further debate and action on building civic engagement in the future.

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Sheila Kennedy: Talking Politics? What you should know before opening your mouth.

Basing one’s arguments on verifiable fact and accepted history actually helps people make more persuasive cases for their own points of view. We all encounter people who have a legitimate point worth considering, but who— because they are basing their argument on erroneous facts, or demonstrating a lack of understanding of important basic concepts—get dismissed out of hand. Credibility requires verifiable evidence. You might want to use that perfect quote from Thomas Jefferson that you saw on the Internet, but if it is bogus, you’ve just undermined your own position. Defending alternate realities is like arguing about whether a fork is a spoon—it doesn’t get you any closer to a useful resolution.

This brief pamphlet contains basic facts about the U.S. Constitution, economic concepts and systems and the nature of science and the scientific method that every citizen should know—facts and definitions that can serve as solid starting points from which you can build more persuasive arguments for your preferred policies, whatever they may be.

Talking Politics was published on June 1, 2014 as part of Georgetown University’s Digital Shorts series.

Aaron Dusso: Incorrect Voting in the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election: How Partisan and Economic Cues Fail to Help Low-Information Voters

Abstract: The importance of voting in undisputed, yet scholarly works attempting to understand the causes and consequences of incorrect voting are relatively scarce. Building on the works of Lau and Redlawsk (1997, 2006; Lau, Andersen, Redlawsk 2008), Dr. Dusso designed and implemented a new survey method measuring incorrect voting called Self-identified Incorrect Voting (SIV). This method allows survey respondents to determine for themselves if they voted incorrectly in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. Dr. Dusso conducted the SIV survey of a national sample of voters and use the results to test traditional hypotheses regarding the value of partisanship and the economy as cues to help low-information voters behave in the same manner as high-information voters.

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