Who Will Be the Next President? Who Cares

A majority of Americans think an increase in community volunteering would have a bigger impact than electing a president they agree with.

National Journal
Nancy Cook
May 9, 2014, 2:35 a.m.

This art­icle is part of a series on the May 2014 All­state/Na­tion­al Journ­al Heart­land Mon­it­or poll.

Hil­lary Clin­ton or Ted Cruz? Rand Paul or Joe Biden? It may not mat­ter. The ma­jor­ity of Amer­ic­ans be­lieve that an in­crease in com­munity act­iv­ism would have a more sig­ni­fic­ant im­pact on daily life than the can­did­ate they elect as pres­id­ent. 

That’s just one of the latest find­ings from the most re­cent All­state/Na­tion­al Journ­al Heart­land Mon­it­or Poll, which re­veals Amer­ic­ans’ pess­im­ism about the power of in­sti­tu­tions like the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to bring about change. 

Fifty-six per­cent of re­spond­ents told poll­sters that more vo­lun­teer­ing in their com­munity would have “a more pos­it­ive im­pact on [their] day-to-day life” than elect­ing a pres­id­ent who agrees with them on im­port­ant is­sues. Just 39 per­cent said that the elec­tion of a par­tic­u­lar pres­id­ent would have a great­er im­pact. 

Re­pub­lic­ans were far more likely than Demo­crats to place high­er value on the im­port­ance of whom they elect as pres­id­ent (by 53 to 34 per­cent). And young­er Amer­ic­ans, ages 18 to 29, had the most faith of any group in the im­pact of com­munity act­iv­ism — a full 73 per­cent said more com­munity vo­lun­teer­ing would bring about the greatest pos­it­ive change.

The re­sponses (and the pess­im­ism they re­veal about Amer­ic­ans’ at­ti­tudes to­ward the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment) fit with the rest of the poll, which shows that the ma­jor­ity of Amer­ic­ans be­lieve the coun­try is on the wrong track. They also largely dis­ap­prove of the per­form­ance of both Con­gress and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The up­side of the polling res­ults? The ma­jor­ity of Amer­ic­ans re­main con­fid­ent in their own abil­ity to bring about change in com­munit­ies both at the loc­al and the fed­er­al level. Re­spond­ents feel that com­munity groups, small busi­nesses, re­li­gious or­gan­iz­a­tions, av­er­age Amer­ic­ans, so­cial act­iv­ists, and state and loc­al gov­ern­ment hold the best chance of help­ing to tackle the coun­try’s ma­jor is­sues. That might ex­plain why even two-thirds of Amer­ic­ans who ap­prove of Pres­id­ent Obama’s per­form­ance in of­fice say com­munity vo­lun­teer­ing makes a big­ger dif­fer­ence. Obama star­ted out, after all, as a com­munity or­gan­izer.

What We're Following See More »
‘PULLING A TRUMP’
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
21 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Source:
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
17 hours ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
12 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
×