Forty-one percent of Americans do not participate very often in any of ten bedrock activities of American civic and political life, according to the latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor survey.
At the other end of the spectrum, just one percent of Americans engage very often in eight or more of the activities–from attending town hall meetings to volunteering in the community to giving money to a cause or political candidate. Those Americans with higher incomes or with college degrees are much more likely than those with low incomes or without college degrees to report engagement in at least one of the civic activities.
Individually, many of these 10 activities are popular. For example, 65 percent of Americans say that they volunteer in their community very often or somewhat often. But in combination, such activities are uncommon. Just 12 percent of Americans engaged in more than three activities “very often,” an indication that for most Americans, civic and political engagement, other than voting in elections, is occasional and narrow in scope.
These findings add texture to one of the survey’s clearest findings, which is that 72 percent of Americans say that the major social changes in this country have come from average Americans pushing government to change, rather than government taking the lead. The catch is that even moderately engaged Americans are not average. At the moment, at least, they are rare.
Individually, many of these ten means of engagement are popular.