Interested in CivicPulse's research? Check out some findings from our recent surveys and reports below!
How do you balance your budget?
Local officials from across the U.S. answered the question, “Would you consider the budget a pressing issue in your local area?” Overall, a majority of them said “Yes,” but there were some differences by region. A higher percentage of policymakers from the Northeast faced budget problems, while those from the West fared relatively better. This question was asked in our March 2019 survey of 2,361 local officials. You can read more about policymakers’ budget problems—and their proposed solutions—in this CivicPulse report.
The Rise of Innovation Pilots
There has been a lot of discussion recently about how local governments can take advantage of new innovation. In our March 2019 survey of top local government bureaucrats (e.g., city managers, county administrators, municipal clerks), we asked about the extent to which local governments are engaging in “innovation pilots,” or trial periods to experiment with new technologies or services to improve their operations. Notably, in recent years a growing number of local governments have reported engaging in one or more innovation pilots. For more information from this survey, you can see the full report, “Not What But How,” written with our partners UrbanLeap and NewCities.
Regional Differences in Compliance with COVID-19 Measures
As public health restrictions evolve in response to COVID-19, they will only be effective if local communities comply with them. In April 2020, we asked 1,025 local leaders across the nation, “To what degree do you think people and businesses in your community are voluntarily complying with these guidelines?” A large majority saw high compliance with restrictions on dining-in services and large gatherings, but less so on restrictions on in-person work and social distancing. In general, local officials in the Midwest reported the highest levels of compliance, while local officials in the South reported the lowest levels. Read more about local compliance in CivicPulse’s second special issue report on COVID-19 here.
Can the debate over gun regulations be resolved at the local level?
In our March 2018 survey, we asked people in state and local government about their stances on different policies to address gun violence. Many of the policies had substantial support across party lines. 75% of the respondents supported implementing mandatory waiting periods for gun purchases, making it the most popular policy.. On the other hand, some policies that have been recently discussed in the media face significant opposition. Notably, 60% of the respondents opposed placing limits on the number of firearms a person could own. We explored this trend and other gun regulation issues in our recent report, found here.
Local policymakers are unusually likely to have military backgrounds
In our August 2018 national survey of local policymakers, we dug deeper into the backgrounds of local policymakers. One astonishing fact we learned: approximately 30% of local policymakers either have direct experience in the U.S. military or have an immediate family member who has. This is roughly twice the rate of occurrence among the general public. Notably, the likelihood that a government official is affiliated with the military is higher among Republicans (39%) than among Democrats (23%).
How can regular citizens make sure their voices are heard?
In our November 2017 survey, we asked local elected officials which communication strategies constituents can take to influence local policymaking. Overwhelmingly, elected officials say they value in-person communication over remote or online communication. Personalized meetings — either private or public — are likely to be rated as “very useful” for influencing officials’ decisions. On the other hand, online messages on social media are very unlikely to be viewed as useful by elected officials.
What deters local officials from seeking higher office?
Politicians often cite fundraising as one of the chief deterrents to seeking higher office. How burdensome is fundraising in local elections compared to state elections? We investigated in our February 2017 survey, which included both local and state elected officials. About 35% of local officials report that they did not fundraise at all in their previous election campaign, and only 25% of local officials reported raising over $5,000. In contrast, nearly all state legislators reported fundraising in their previous election, and about half raised over $20,000.