Floridians Practice Limited Civic Activism

December 20, 2007

Floridians Practice Limited Civic Activism
Yet Well Exceed National Averages for Grassroots Activism

December 20, 2007

For more information on the survey results contact Brad Coker at 904-261-2444
For more information on Leadership Florida contact Wendy Abberger at 877-352-5323

Tallahassee – There is a wide gap between expectations and reality when it comes to the civic activism patterns revealed in Leadership Florida’s 2007 Sunshine State Survey. Unquestionably, Florida’s reputation as a crucial battleground state creates an imagery of a constituency that is heavily involved in political campaigns. 

Within the past year, a bare majority of Floridians (53%) called, visited, faxed or e-mailed something to a government official, while only half (50%) signed a petition, and less than half attended a public meeting (42%). The numbers are significantly lower on grass roots based political activism, with only 15% of Floridians having called into a radio show to express an opinion, only 8% working in a political campaign or going door-to-door for a group and just 4% participating in a march or protest. The results are very similar to 2006, indicating there is little difference in civic activism between election and non-election years.

“In general, Floridians well exceed national averages for grassroots activism--contacting government officials, attending public meetings, voluntarism, and signing petitions,” said, Dr. Susan MacManus, distinguished university professor of public administration and political science at the University of South Florida and academic advisor to the survey committee.  “Their lower level of participation in campaign activities more closely mirrors the national averages—although these rates are also slightly above the U.S. average.”   

In Florida, civic activism is higher among registered voters, those with college degrees, and those making more than $100,000 per year. Interestingly, civic activism is actually higher among those under the age of 65 than it is among the state’s senior citizens.

The Sunshine State Survey -- commissioned by Leadership Florida and its partners, the Florida Philanthropic Network and the Jessie Ball duPont Fund -- takes an unbiased, non-politically aligned look at the opinions of Floridians. A total of 1,200 Florida residents were interviewed statewide by phone as part of this 2nd annual survey, which will be released in topical segments over the course of this month.  The survey was conducted November 19 through November 30, 2007 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. of Washington, D.C.
An academic look at the Sunshine State Survey findings, as well as a cross section of data on civic activism are both attached and available for download on the Leadership Florida website, www.leadershipflorida.org/pub_survey07.

Leadership Florida
Leadership Florida has developed a reputation for 25 years as a builder of a stronger, diverse statewide sense of community. A respected non-partisan convener, LF has taken the lead in training and developing leaders with a statewide, rather than parochial, view of our state’s needs.

Florida Philanthropic Network
The Florida Philanthropic Network strives for Florida to be successful in modeling and facilitating cooperation and collaboration among all sectors – business, government and nonprofit, to promote the best interest of all Floridians.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund
The Jessie Ball duPont Fund, based in Jacksonville, Florida, invests in organizations and communities that were important to the founder, Mrs. duPont, making grants to more than 330 eligible organizations identified by her will.

Sunshine State Survey - Civic Activism

An Academic Look at Civic Activism in Florida