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.

Peter Bell contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
2 days ago
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
2 days ago

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
3 days ago

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Trump Cancels Rallies
4 days ago

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
5 days ago

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”