Donald Trump’s popularity is really quite stable. For a while, it looked as if he was losing a point or so per month, but that trend has reversed. From the perspective of January 2018, the flatness of the line is striking.
Then again, presidential popularity is usually correlated with economic performance. A strong correlate of approval for an incumbent president is satisfaction with the direction of the country. Since the economy is humming along and satisfaction with the direction of the country is modestly rising, one would expect Trump’s popularity to be 7-17 percentage points higher than it is.
To be clear, I don’t think that the economy is producing fair results. But historically, measures like satisfaction and consumer optimism usually correlate with presidential approval. Trump has broken that pattern.
Also, a prevailing model in political science holds that our demographic identities come first. They lead us to affiliate with political parties that seem to represent or encompass those identities. Our attitudes toward politicians are then strongly colored by our partisan affiliations. But party identification sometimes changes faster than the demographic composition of the country. I’ve created the following graph of party affiliation using Gallup data (moving averages over 7 months). It shows that there’s not been that much change over time–the y-axis goes from 20%-50%–but Republican identification (the red line) has fallen since Trump was elected. First Independents (gray) seemed to gain at the expense of Republicans and Democrats, but lately it’s been Democrats (blue) who have increased their share.
I’d conclude that underlying factors–demographics, economics, and partisanship–do explain most of a president’s support. But they don’t fully explain it, and Donald Trump is demonstrating that you can alienate a lot of people from yourself and your party if you really act like a jerk. This is kind of a perverse finding (doing a very bad job can cause damage), but it’s still evidence that rhetoric and intentional action matter, regardless of what else is happening in the world. It lends support to a theory I have long suspected: agency is often hard to detect because most people who lead major organizations and movements are pretty competent, and their efforts tend to cancel out. Trump is an exception that shows that intentional behavior and competence mattered all along.
If the economy continues to prosper and Trump doesn’t behave even worse, I suspect we will see some improvement in his popularity. The underlying circumstances will count more and more. On the other hand, if the economy hits some bumps, he’s vulnerable. (But that is truly not to be wished for, because too many people will suffer.)
Coming up at the end of January, NCDD member org MetroQuest will be hosting the webinar, Facing Contention – How to Detox Public Engagement; co-sponsored by NCDD, IAP2, and the American Planning Association (APA). If you are looking to improve public engagement processes around controversial projects, then make sure you register ASAP to join the webinar. We encourage you to read the announcement from MetroQuest below or you can find the original here.
MetroQuest Webinar: Facing Contention – How to Detox Public Engagement
Tuesday, January 30th
11 am Pacific | 12 pm Mountain | 1 pm Central | 2 pm Eastern (1 hour)
Educational Credit Available (CM APA AICP)
Jeanette Janiczek from the City of Charlottesville with Jonathan Whitehurst and Sal Musarra from Kimley-Horn and Associates will discuss their success with an innovative approach to public involvement on the contentious Belmont Bridge Replacement project.
Numerous forces have combined recently to create an increasingly toxic and adversarial climate for public engagement. These patterns and their effects are being felt across the country and its planners and community engagement staff who increasingly find themselves on the front lines of this conflict. Finding ways to design and manage public engagement efforts to maintain a respectful and productive dialog and collect meaningful and constructive public input is more important than ever.
This highly-visual webinar will showcase the Belmont Bridge Replacement case study along with proven best practices, research findings, and practical tips to guide agencies towards the successful application of community engagement on hot button and contentious projects.
Attend this complimentary 1-hour webinar to learn how to …
- Create public engagement process to mitigate tensions
- Engage more people from a broader demographic to hear diverse viewpoints
- Collect informed and constructive public input on contentious topics
- Get past entrenched positions to understand community priorities
- Work with opposing groups to create a more harmonious outcome
You can find the original version of this announcement on MetroQuest’s site at http://go.metroquest.com/Belmont-Bridge-Kimley-Horn-Webinar.
There is an exciting opportunity for recent PhDs to work with NCDD member org, Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) and help strengthen participatory democracy! PBP recently announced they have an opening as a Participation Design Strategist, part of the Mellow/ACLS Public Fellows program, for those who are new PhDs. The deadline to apply is March 14th, 2018 for the position, and we hope some NCDDers will apply (by clicking here)! You can read more information on the fellowship opening in the post below or find the original here. Good luck to all applicants!
Mellon/ACLS Fellowship Opening – Participation Design Strategist
At the Participatory Budgeting Project, we’re pleased to announce that we have been selected by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) as a host organization for the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows Program, a career-building fellowship initiative designed to expand the reach of doctoral education in the humanities. In 2018, the Public Fellows program will place up to 25 recent PhDs from the humanities and humanistic social sciences in two-year staff positions at partnering organizations in government and the nonprofit sector. Fellows will participate in the substantive work of these organizations and will receive professional mentoring, an annual stipend of $67,500, and health insurance.
The application deadline is March 14, 2018 (9pm EDT). For more information, please visit http://www.acls.org/programs/publicfellowscomp/.
Position Title: Participation Design Strategist
We are seeking a Participation Design Strategist to work in PBP’s Participation Lab, one of our three program areas. The Lab evaluates, researches, and develops tools and practices to make participatory budgeting and democracy work better. The strategist will work closely with other staff and partners to develop and test strategies that improve PBP’s services and PB processes. Through this work the strategist will identify and help implement design solutions that enable participatory democracy to grow and scale, and that advance equity, diversity, and inclusion in civic participation. This will include close collaboration with government and nonprofit staff, community leaders, and user design experts.
This position is great preparation for those interested in a career in the nonprofit or public sectors, including in user experience design, human centered design, public participation, civic engagement, program evaluation, service delivery, or public administration. This is a new position that expands PBP’s capacity to make data-informed design decisions as well as to keep pace with the increasing volume and diversity of communities excited about deepening local democracy. See the full job posting here.
- Stipend: $67,500 per year, with health insurance coverage for the fellow, a relocation allowance, and up to $3,000 in professional development funds over the course of the fellowship
- Tenure: Two years; start date on August 1 or September 1, 2018, depending on the fellowship position
- Applications will be accepted only through the ACLS Online Fellowship Application system (ofa.acls.org). The system will open on January 4, 2018.
- Application deadline: March 14, 2018, 9pm EDT
- Notification of application status will occur by email starting late-May 2018.
Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows is a fellowship program offered by the American Council of Learned Societies and is made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Please direct all inquiries about the fellowship program to ACLS.
You can find the original version of this announcement on the Participatory Budgeting Project’s site at www.participatorybudgeting.org/mellon-fellowship/.
The eleventh annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies will take place from June 11 to June 21, 2018 at Tufts University. It will be an intensive, two-week, interdisciplinary seminar that brings together faculty, advanced graduate students, and practitioners from many countries and diverse fields of study. Please consider applying or forward to others who may be interested.
The Summer Institute was founded and co-taught from 2009-17 by Peter Levine, Associate Dean of Research at Tisch College, and Karol Soltan, Associate Professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. In 2018, it will be taught by Peter Levine with Tufts colleagues. It features guest seminars by distinguished colleagues from various institutions and engages participants in challenging discussions such as:
- How can people work together to improve the world?
- How can people reason together about what is right to do?
- What practices and institutional structures promote these kinds of citizenship?
- How should empirical evidence, ethics, and strategy relate?
The daily sessions take place on the Tufts campus in Medford, MA. The seminar concludes with a public conference, Frontiers of Democracy, and participants in the Institute are expected to stay for the conference.
A draft syllabus for the 2018 summer institute (subject to change) is here. This is a 16-minute video introduction to Civic Studies. You can read more about the motivation for the Institute in the “Framing Statement” by Harry Boyte, University of Minnesota; Stephen Elkin, University of Maryland; Peter Levine, Tufts; Jane Mansbridge, Harvard; Elinor Ostrom, Indiana University; Karol Soltan, University of Maryland; and Rogers Smith, University of Pennsylvania.
To apply: please email your resume, an electronic copy of your graduate transcript (if applicable), and a cover email about your interests to Peter Levine at Peter.Levine@Tufts.edu. For best consideration, apply no later than March 16, 2018.
You can also sign up here to receive occasional emails about the Summer Institute if you’re interested, but perhaps not for 2018.
European Institute: Applicants from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Poland, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan are invited to apply to the European Institute of Civic Studies to be held in Herrsching, near Munich, Germany, from July 15 to July 28, 2018. Their costs are covered thanks to a grant from DAAD.
Tuition for the Institute is free, but participants are responsible for their own housing and transportation. One option is a Tufts University dormitory room, which can be rented from $69/night for a single or $85/night for a double. Credit is not automatically offered, but special arrangements for graduate credit may be possible.
The seminar will be followed (from June 21, evening, until June 23) by a public conference–”Frontiers of Democracy 2018″–in downtown Boston. Participants in the institute are expected to stay for the public conference. See information on the conference here.
The 32-page discussion guide, Future Possibilities for Civil Rights Policy, was published by Interactivity Foundation in May 2011 and edited by Suzanne Goodney Lea. For this discussion guide, participants consider what does a civil right actually mean and then explore the policy directions that will redefine civil rights over the next few decades. The guide is available in both English and Spanish. Below is an excerpt of the guide, which can be downloaded as a PDF for free from IF’s site here.
We hear a lot about civil rights. Some people say these rights embody the very soul or essence of our democracy and must be actively safeguarded. Others observe that these kinds of rights are spreading to other places around the world. Still others contend that these rights must sometimes be given up in order to protect our nation’s security. But do we ever stop and think about what rights are or could be? Why do we have them? What purposes do they serve and where might they be headed?
Our country’s Constitution and other founding documents incorporate many important ideas about civil rights as they have been imagined within our democratic society. Still, while our Constitution has survived for a couple hundred years, it has also had to change to meet the challenges of new social and political realities. We’ve seen some civil rights expanded to people who were not even recognized as “persons” in earlier times. We’ve also seen some rights contracted during times of social or political upheaval, or eroded through disuse.
Participants in this project discussion are struggling with multiple possible dimensions to civil rights that go well beyond the conventional legal and political frameworks. For example, how might civil rights influence and even define the ways we choose to live our lives as individuals, the ways our government treats us as citizens, and the ways we treat one another as fellow citizens? How might civil rights relate to broader concepts of rights or citizenship or democracy? What new civil rights might emerge and what others might fall away as we move forward into this century?
Panelist discussions for this project began in the summer of 2009, completed their work in the early fall of 2010, and the final discussion report is now available in both printed and online versions.
You can download a copy of this report from our “Discussion Reports” page (also listed in the sidebar to the right), which lists all of our published reports, or, to download a copy directly, you can click on either of the following links: Future Possibilities for Civil Rights Policyor en Español, Politica Sobre Derechos Civiles (32 páginas/1.3 MB).
If you are interested in further information about the process used to develop IF reports or IF’s work in general, we invited you to consult our website at interactivityfoundation.org
About the Interactivity Foundation
The Interactivity Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works to enhance the process and expand the scope of our public discussions through facilitated small-group discussion of multiple and contrasting possibilities. The Foundation does not engage in political advocacy for itself, any other organization or group, or on behalf of any of the policy possibilities described in its discussion guidebooks. For more information, see the Foundation’s website at www.interactivityfoundation.org.
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