2000 Poll Shows Negative View of Politics

2000 Report (download pdf)

2000 Report (Scribd)


For both younger and older non-voters, the behavior of politicians and the media
perpetuate negative views toward politics and political participation. In a culture that does not emphasize political participation as impoltant, non-voters do not see anything positive that motivates them to become engaged. For occasional voters, a more developed sense of responsibility toward political participation sometimes helps to overcome any negative feelings generated by candidates and the media. For non-voters, however, there is no underlying sense of civic duty that compels them to vote in a political culture that offers little in the way of inspiration. In fact, they see voting as a choice, rather than as an obligation. Some non-voters see non-voting as a powerful expression of their disenchantment with politicians and the political system. Other non-voters merely see nonvoting as an almost responsible decision, feeling that they do not have enough information or cannot sort through the information they do have to make informed choices about candidates and issues.

For all respondents, it is clear that the political system often does not offer enough incentives to make participating a habit. When choices about time and energy have to be made, voting is often a lower priority than other commitments and, for some, even a lower priority than relaxation. Procedural reforms may help to make voting easier and more flexible, requiring less of a time commitment at a certain place on a certain day and, therefore, may boost turnout among some occasional or non-voters. However, the root problems of skepticism, distrust, or disinterest will require larger changes in our culture, among our leaders, and among institutions like the media.

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