IPFW Professor’s Research shows public is optimistic about positive political campaigns despite incivility

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Press release from IPFW:

IPFW Professor’s Research Shows Public Is Optimistic About Positive Political Campaigns Despite Incivility

(December 6, 2010) – Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) Associate Professor of Political Science Michael R. Wolf is the co-author of a multi-part study conducted by the Center for Political Participation (CPP) at Allegheny College on the growing incivility in politics. The most recent phase of the study, conducted the last four days before the November general election, shows Americans “see politics as increasingly nasty and the current political tone may be harmful to our democracy. Still, an overwhelming majority believe that passionate but respectful campaigning is possible.”

The poll found:

  • 63 percent of responders say politics have become less civil since President Obama took office, though they blame different sources.
    Up from 48 percent in the April survey and up from 58 percent in the September survey.
  • 46 percent of registered voters said the 2010 election was “the most negative” they had seen
  • 26 percent said the 2010 election was “more negative than in the past,” but they had seen worse
  • Only 4 percent said the 2010 campaign was more positive than in the past.
  • 64 percent said the degenerating tone of politics is unhealthy for our democracy
  • 17 percent think the tone of campaigns is healthy for our democracy
  • 14 percent think tone has little impact on our democracy

The November results also show nine out of ten registered voters retain their optimism about candidates’ ability to conduct aggressive but respectful campaigns. Wolf said “This percentage actually grew by five percent from our mid-September numbers. Just because the public views campaigns as brutal, particularly this year’s, doesn’t mean they think it has to be that way. At least for now some optimism remains out there.”

Wolf partnered with Allegheny College Professor of Political Science and Director of the CPP Daniel M. Shea to conduct the study. IPFW’s Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, William McKinney, and IPFW’s Department of Political Science provided grants to make the study possible.

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