By Michael Berkman
Political conventions focus attention on strong partisans. But not all Americans call themselves Democrats or Republicans, or for that matter Libertarians or Greens. Many prefer to think of themselves as Independents.
With the McCourtney “Mood of the Nation Poll,” we can look at these Independents in a unique way. The poll is a scientific survey that allows ordinary citizens to tell us what is on their minds, without being restricted to a small number of predetermined answers. It also includes standard polling questions such as party identification, allowing us to see who these independents are and what they are thinking about this campaign. The most recent poll posed a series of open-ended questions to a representative sample of 1,000 Americans between June 15-22.
Determining who is an Independent is not straightforward. CNN, in its post-convention survey, reports that “28 percent described themselves as Democrats, 24 percent described themselves as Republicans, and 48 percent described themselves as independents or members of another party.” This is not far from our survey. Our breakdown shows a greater number of Independents (35 percent) than Republicans or Democrats.
Continue reading Focus on research: Poll reveals 3 types of Independents
By Michael Berkman and Zachary Baumann
In an election year notable for the success of “outsider candidates,” Pennsylvania confirmed that the party establishment has a much stronger hold on the Democratic than it does the Republican Party.
Pennsylvania Democrats participated in three notable statewide races: for president, for senator and to replace Kathleen Kane as attorney general. As we saw, in all three cases, the establishment candidate won by a significant margin.
Continue reading Focus on research: PA primaries offer microcosm of unusual election year
By Sarah Clark Miller
Editor’s note: This column originally appeared on Penn State News through a partnership between the Rock Ethics Institute and Penn State Today. You are invited to ask a question by filling out and submitting this form. An archive of the columns can be found on the Rock Ethics Institute website.
Question: What can the power of invisibility teach us about the role of ethical leadership in contemporary democracy?
An ethicist responds: Caucus season is here. In picking the next president, how do we choose the best candidate? Common criteria include candidates’ takes on specific issues, their ability to serve as commander in chief, and how we imagine they would navigate delicate international imbroglios. It is telling that we are less likely to consult a crucial set of concerns regarding whether candidates would lead in a manner that is just, virtuous, and compassionate.
Enter one of the oldest philosophical thought experiments, Plato’s Ring of Gyges, a tale about a shepherd who finds a magic ring that grants him the power of invisibility when he turns the bezel toward his palm. Imagine the possibilities. If you found a ring of invisibility, how would you use it? For good? For evil? To promote justice? For personal gain? To play amusing pranks on unsuspecting colleagues? Continue reading Focus on research: Can Plato help us pick the next president?
By Christopher Beem
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on The Conversation.
When it comes to democracy, the kids aren’t all right.
Research recently presented by Roberto Foa and Yascha Mounk shows growing disillusionment with democracy – not just with politics or campaigns, but with democracy itself.
This growth is worldwide, but it is especially strong among young Americans. Fewer than 30 percent of Americans born since 1980 say that living in a democracy is essential. For those born since 1970, more than one in five describe our democratic system as “bad or very bad.” That’s almost twice the rate for people born between 1950 and 1970. Continue reading Focus on research: Young voters embrace Sanders, but not democracy