for Civic Education
Research and Evaluation
Between November 04– March 05, the Center conducted a survey of alumni from the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program. Altogether, 522 alumni responded, ranging in age from 18–34. The primary focus of the study was on voting and other forms of political engagement. Due to self-selection by respondents, these findings should be considered as suggestive rather than generalizable to all We the People alumni.
We the People alumni were compared with a national probability study from the 2004 National Election Studies (NES) of other young Americans their age. In other questions, alumni were also compared with over 289,000 American college freshmen (The American Freshman: National Norms for Fall 2004). Among alumni eligible to vote in 2004, key findings are:
92% of alumni reported voting in November 2004, in contrast to 78% of those surveyed in the NES study
85% of alumni said they had voted in all previous elections
63% reported being very interested in national politics and national affairs
53% of alumni read the newspaper often; while 64% paid a great deal of attention to stories on politics and public issues; whereas 41% of NES respondents had not read a daily newspaper in the past week; and 30% of NES respondents said they had not watched a national television news broadcast in the past week
83% of alumni held that it was essential or very important to keep current with political affairs in contrast to only 34% of American college freshmen
60% of alumni discussed national politics and affairs nearly every day or nearly every day
Since January 2003, 26% of respondents had volunteered to work for a candidate running for office; 16% had made a financial campaign contribution; 29% had taken part in a protest, march or demonstration on a national or local issue; fewer than 4% of NES respondents had taken part in any of these activities
34% of alumni, in contrast to 13% of NES respondents, had contacted a federal elected official or staff; 41% had contacted state or local level elected officials or their staff
65% of alumni thought influencing the political structure was essential or very important, while only 20% of college freshmen agreed
58% of alumni felt becoming a community leader was essential or very important, in contrast to 31% of college freshmen
In summary, We the People alumni surveyed are better informed and more politically engaged than their peers.
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