Monthly Archives: November 2015

A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … While Gov. Christie is a National Name, Lt. Gov. Guadagno Fails to Make Waves at Home

As we gear up for our next Rutgers-Eagleton Poll – the big 200th in 44 years of polling New Jersey! – our student staff takes a closer look at some of the data from our October survey that we have not yet had a chance to fully explore. This one addresses Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno’s (lack of) name recognition.

While Gov. Christie is a National Name, Lt. Gov. Guadagno Fails to Make Waves at Home

By Sonni Waknin

Sonni Waknin is a junior at Rutgers University. Sonni is the lead poll historian and a research associate with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

***

Some local and state politicians are not very well known by their citizens. For example, while most New Jersey voters know of Gov. Chris Christie, very few recognize or have an opinion on other high-level politicians in the state – such as Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno. Guadagno has served with Christie for over five years, yet has not cultivated any name recognition with New Jersey voters despite acting as governor almost as much as Christie has in the past year alone.

An October 2015 Rutgers-Eagleton Poll found that 67 percent of New Jersey voters either do not know who the Lieutenant Governor is or have no opinion of her. When New Jerseyans do have an opinion on Guadagno, 19 percent are favorable and 14 percent are unfavorable toward the Lieutenant Governor.

Unsurprisingly, there is a partisan divide when it comes to Guadagno’s favorability, with more Republicans than Democrats holding a favorable view of the Lieutenant Governor. About one third of Republicans are favorable toward her, as opposed to only 9 percent of Democrats; independents are much more favorable than Democrats, at 19 percent. About one in ten Republicans are unfavorable, compared to about one fifth of Democrats. But Guadagno is overwhelmingly unknown by at least half of Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike. The number of those who do not know or have an opinion of Guadagno is especially high for independents and Democrats, at around 70 percent.

When viewing Guadagno’s favorability by gender, women are 4 percent less likely to have a favorable view of the Lieutenant Governor than men, 17 to 21 percent. Also, slightly fewer men find Guadagno unfavorable at 13 percent, compared to 14 percent of women. Again, most do not know or have an opinion of Guadagno regardless of their gender.

Looking at Guadagno’s favorability by age, the Lieutenant Governor appears to become more favorable and more well-known with older voters. Only 12 percent of those 18-34 find Guadagno favorable. This number practically doubles among residents 35-49 and 50-64 years old – to 20 percent and 24 percent favorable, respectively. However, Guadagno’s favorability dips for New Jerseyans 65 and older to 17 percent favorable.

In every category, a majority New Jersey voters, regardless of party, age, gender, or even race, do not know who Lt. Gov. Guadagno is. It is hard for New Jerseyans to have an opinion of Guadagno because she has not had a very public presence in the state. Guadagno’s low numbers may also be because Christie himself is such a large personality that it is hard for Guadagno to become a name on her own. Christie’s own favorability rating moreover may have something to do with how the Lt. Governor is perceived by voters. It should be important to New Jersey voters who their Lt. Governor is, because when Christie is out of state – which is often these days – the Lt. Governor is the acting governor. Guadagno should try to make herself more well known in the state, given that she has taken a very active role in the administration while Christie has been campaigning for president. And of course, the 2017 gubernatorial race is only two years away; if Guadagno hopes to be a contender, she does not have long to build her name recognition.

 

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Polling in Iowa; Does it Mean Much Yet?

For the last few months, Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling Director David Redlawsk has been in Iowa, studying the first in the nation Iowa Caucuses, following up on work he and colleagues did in 2007-08 for the book Why Iowa?.

What follows is another in our occasional series of blog posts from him about his experiences and about the campaigns for president. These posts were originally published on the Drake University Caucus Blog; Dave is in residence as a Fellow at the Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement. In addition to these posts, he is tweeting @DavidRedlawsk as he attends events and watches the process unfold.

Read below for Dave’s take on how Iowans tend to make up their minds late.

Iowa Caucus Goers are late deciders: Still Plenty of Room for Change

It’s just over 60 days to the Iowa Caucuses. Polling continues to show Donald Trump on top of the GOP pack here in the Hawkeye State. But, as I write this two recent polls show something changing under the Trump umbrella. Ben Carson, who had been running a close second to Trump appears to be falling; perhaps his time is over. Taking his place is Ted Cruz, who has doubled his support to just over 20%, while Carson has fallen below that mark. Trump himself remains in the 25%-30% range, where he has been stuck for months. Nothing seems to change for Trump in Iowa; all the action is in second and third.

Meanwhile the media remains obsessed about whether Trump’s support is real, or whether it will fade as voters get “serious”. Nate Silver just suggested the media needs to “stop freaking out” over Trump. He argues, as I have since at least August in Twitter comments and on the news app Sidewire, that Trump’s numbers remain stagnant at about a quarter of GOP voters. We’re seeing this in Iowa as well as nationally. In fact, a poll in August had Trump at 23% in Iowa; today he is around 25%.

The basis of Silvers sanguine attitude toward a Trump nomination is the claim that voters in places like Iowa do not make up their minds until quite late. Silver uses public exit polls from the 2008 and 2012 caucuses to show this.

Here I want to reinforce that point, using a completely different dataset. In 2008, Caroline Tolbert, Todd Donovan (my co-authors on Why Iowa?) and I administered an in-caucus survey of both parties. This is NOT an exit poll. Instead, with the cooperation of both parties, we placed a single survey instrument in EVERY Iowa precinct with instructions to the Caucus Chair to give it to the person whose birthday was closest to a random date on the packet. This allowed us to randomize the survey and also to potentially cover every precinct in Iowa. While we didn’t get them all back, our return rate was over 60% for the GOP and over 70% for the Democrats.

So what can we learn from the GOP and Democratic caucus goers of 2008, the last time both parties had wide open nominations?

First, YES, Iowans do not rush to make Caucus decisions. Across both parties in 2008, 54% of those filling out the survey told us they had made their candidate choice only in the final month, and 5% came in the door that night undecided. Just a quarter had decided at least three months before the caucuses.

And first time attendees were not any faster or slower making up their minds: 56% had done so in the final month, compared to 52% of repeat attendees, an insignificant difference. Not surprisingly though, those who had caucused before were a little more likely to be early deciders: 27% decided before October 2007, compared to 22% of first timers.

We also see no differences in gender – men and women were equally likely in 2008 to make late decisions.

Of course, some Iowa Caucus goers are party activists, but in 2008 a surprising number (nearly 60% in our survey) were not, something I would expect will be the case again this year. No one should be surprised that activists make up their minds earlier: across both parties nearly 60% of the most active has made a decision more than a month before, as had over half of those who called themselves “somewhat active” in their party. In contrast only slightly more than one-third of less active voters made an early decision.

While the above combines both parties, we can dig further into our data and look for differences between Republicans and Democrats. What we find is that in 2007-08, GOP voters were slower to decide. While 47% of Democrats with a preference entering the caucuses, waited until the last month to decide this rises to 62% of GOP voters that year. Nearly 30% of Democrats had decided before October, but only 19% of Republicans had settled on a choice that early.

A group of particular importance to GOP candidates is Evangelical Christians. But guess what? Once again we see no real differences in decision time. Evangelicals were just as likely to make a late decision as any other Iowa Caucus goer in 2008.

What’s the takeaway from this deeper dive into Iowa Caucus goers’ decision timing? Simply, there is a lot of room for candidates to play in the final weeks before Iowans cast their First in the Nation votes. The lesson for 2016 may be exactly what Silver and others are saying. There remains fluidity, and the inevitability of Donald Trump in Iowa (or anywhere else) is not at all certain. If the past holds any indicators for today, at two months ahead of the caucuses a very large share of the vote is still in play, no matter what people tell pollsters today. And in particular, given that GOP voters appear to make later decisions even in 2008 when both parties had large fields, there is every reason to think we have a lot more ups and downs to watch before this whole thing is over. Some people are committed, but most are still shopping, even as their choice set gets smaller and the shopping days fly by.

Final note: The data we collected with our 2008 in-caucus, along with the survey instruments, are available for anyone to examine at www.whyiowa.org.

 

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A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … 2008 All Over Again: Obama Still More Popular Than Clinton

As we gear up for our next Rutgers-Eagleton Poll – the big 200th in 44 years of polling New Jersey! – our student staff takes a closer look at some of the data from our October survey that we have not yet had a chance to fully explore. This particular post puts a very interesting spin on the relationship between Obama and Hillary supporters!

2008 All Over Again: Obama Still More Popular Than Clinton

By Zachary Goldfarb

Zachary Goldfarb is a junior at Rutgers University. Evan is a research assistant with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

***

Many people claim that a Hillary Clinton presidency would simply translate into a third Obama term. Yet, according to our October Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, 15 percent of New Jersey registered voters who viewed Obama favorably held an unfavorable opinion of Clinton. This difference in favorability can be found among all demographic groups, with Clinton trailing Obama in all categories.

Obama holds a higher favorability rating than Clinton among all recorded racial groups. Among white voters, Obama holds a 6-point favorability advantage over Clinton (41 percent to 35 percent). Similarly, Obama surpasses Clinton among black voters, with a 6-point difference (93 percent to 87 percent). Likewise, Obama holds an advantage over Clinton among Hispanics (74 percent to 58 percent). Although Clinton does maintain a strong level of support from black and Hispanic communities, she is clearly having more trouble garnering support among these groups than Obama has had.

When it comes to age, Clinton falls behind Obama among all groups. This difference is most evident among those 18-29 years old, where Obama leads in favorability by 19 points (64 percent to 45 percent). While Obama’s favorability remains higher than Clinton’s in all other age groups, it is by a smaller margin. For those 30-49, 50-64, and 65+, Obama remains 5-8 points more favorable than Clinton. These results tell us that Clinton is struggling to excite all age groups the way Obama has, particularly millennials.

Surprisingly, Obama is more favorable than Clinton among both men and women. The gap among men remains large, with a nearly 12-point advantage favoring Obama (48 percent versus 36 percent). Women also favor Obama by a higher margin than Clinton, with a 6-point difference between them (58 percent versus 52 percent). This finding conflicts with the notion that, as a woman, Hillary would garner more support among female voters.

In order for Clinton to win over even more Obama supporters, she needs to work harder across all demographics. With the election a year away, we will continue tracking the favorability rating of both the current president and the Democratic frontrunner in New Jersey.

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A Closer Look by the ECPIP Staff … Senator Cory Booker: On the Rise to 2016?

As we gear up for our next Rutgers-Eagleton Poll – the big 200th in 44 years of polling New Jersey! – our student staff takes a closer look at some of the data from our October survey that we have not yet had a chance to fully explore.

Senator Cory Booker: On the Rise to 2016?

By Evan Covello

Evan Covello is a sophomore at Rutgers University. Evan is a research assistant with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

***

With only a few months to go until the primaries are underway, speculation regarding potential running mates will be heating up as the parties narrow down their fields. New Jersey’s own U.S. Senator Cory Booker, has emerged as a potential 2016 running mate for Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who currently leads the national polls for the Democratic nomination. As such, it is a good time for us to revisit Sen. Booker’s numbers – at least within his home state.

In his home state of New Jersey, 54 percent of registered voters have a favorable opinion of Senator Booker, with only 21 percent unfavorable toward him. Race influences Booker’s high favorability; Booker’s favorability is higher among those who identify as being non-white (59 percent) as opposed to those who identify as white (52 percent). Specifically, 80 percent of those who identify as black are favorable of Senator Booker, with only 8 percent saying they are unfavorable.

Age is also a large factor in Booker’s high favorability. Those who fall between the ages of 18-29 are favorable of Senator Booker at 51 percent, with 13 percent unfavorable, and 36 percent responding that they have no opinion or do not know. Although Booker’s favorability rises with age, so do negative feelings toward him, and the gap between those who view him favorably and unfavorably decreases. For example, those 50-64 years old have a higher favorability of Senator Booker (54 percent), but 26 percent are unfavorable – a 28-point gap, compared to a 38-point gap among millennials. Millennials – who, just like the Senator, are know for their tech savvy ways – have been a key demographic for Sen. Booker during his time in New Jersey.

Another demographic that one would normally expect to be a large support base for Democratic candidates would be women. The Center for American Women and Politics addresses the issue of the gender gap between the two political parties, showing that women are more likely to register as Democrats than as Republicans and are more likely to register as Democrats than men. With Booker being a Democrat, we would expect support among women to be a strong factor in his high level of favorability. Gender is not statistically significant for Sen. Booker, however, as there is very little difference between men (53 percent) and women (54 percent) who are favorable toward him.

With strong ratings throughout New Jersey – especially among those groups that make up a large portion of the Democratic base – Sen. Booker may be a great addition to a Clinton presidential ticket for 2016, especially with key demographics.

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Leading Up to our 200th Poll Ever … A Look back at the 1980s

Celebrating the 200th

A Look Back at the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll: The 1980s

By Abigail Orr

Abigail Orr is a junior at Rutgers University. Abigail is a research assistant with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

Here at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, we are about to approach our 200th poll ever – quite a milestone and a marker of just how long we have been polling New Jersey politics. The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll was the nation’s first university-based state survey when it was established with funding from the Wallace-Eljabar Fund in October 1971. It has been called many different names and has had many different directors over the past 44 years, but what has remained constant is its dedication to contributing to the public dialogue in the state; to access our over four decades of data, you can visit our extensive data archive. For more information on the poll’s history, check out our website: http://eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu/rutgers-eagleton-poll/

This is our second decade-by-decade analysis as we gear up for our 200th poll; you can see our first decade-by-decade analysis from last week here on our blog. We have an amazing team of interns who have been working very hard on researching our past and analyzing old questionnaires, press releases, and data. Special thanks to Sonni Waknin, Natalie DeAngelo, and Abigail Orr on this project.  

***

The 1980s marked a new ‘morning in America,” with high spirits and economic prosperity, often attributed to President Ronald Reagan. Throughout this decade, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll asked questions about such topics as education, the president, elections, political figures, and safety within the Garden State.

Education has always been an important topic in New Jersey and was especially prevalent in the 1980s. One question during this decade read: “Suppose the local public schools said they need more money. Would you vote for or against raising taxes for this purpose?” Fifty-two percent of New Jerseyans said they would vote for more taxes for local schools, while 34 percent said they would vote against more taxes. Eight percent said it would depend, and 6 percent did not know what they would do in this situation.

Another question asked during the 1980s was about culture: “Some people feel the state should support the arts in New Jersey, saying that beyond running the government, the state should try to enrich peoples lives. Others feel the state should give no support to the arts, saying this is not something the state should or needs to be involved in – which view comes closest to your own?” 58 percent of respondents said the state should support the arts, while 29 percent said the state should not support the arts. Four percent said it depends and 10 percent did not know.

Other question topics during the 1980s included: the close 1981 gubernatorial race between Kean and Florio, state tourism slogans, casino gambling, toxic waste, crime, Iran-Contra, drinking and driving, the right to die, and – believe it or not – how home computers are not a trend but rather here to stay.

1980s Word Cloud

Word Cloud of All Press Release Topics: 1980-1989

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Eagleton in Iowa Series: Trump in Iowa

For the last few months, Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling Director David Redlawsk has been in Iowa, studying the first in the nation Iowa Caucuses, following up on work he and colleagues did in 2007-08 for the book Why Iowa?.

What follows is another in our occasional series of blog posts from him about his experiences and about the campaigns for president. These posts were originally published on the Drake University Caucus Blog; Dave is in residence as a Fellow at the Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement. In addition to these posts, he is tweeting @DavidRedlawsk as he attends events and watches the process unfold.

Read below for Dave’s take on frontrunner Donald Trump.

Donald Trump: Superman with a Super Will

I think I get it now. I mean, I got it intellectually before. People are angry, frustrated, looking for something. But after attending a Donald Trump event in Burlington recently, I get it emotionally. At least I can see what the feeling of Trump means to the true-believer Trumpites.

Trump is about a future that is much better than today and more importantly about the force of will to make it so. Most candidates have some future-looking aspect to their campaign which they claim they will pursue if elected. But Trump really seems different, so bombastic in his praise of himself and his abilities that you almost have to believe it could be true.

Trump1The rally is being held in Burlington, Iowa’s Memorial Auditorium, which hulks along the Mississippi River. The Auditorium was opened nearly 80 years ago, and according to its website was built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the depression-era agency that was responsible for massive public works projects around the country. Inside, the space is perfect for this kind of rally. Big open space in front of the stage, surrounded by seating on multiple levels for those of us who did not want to stand for hours.

Ironically, perhaps, the WPA was a government effort to rebuild America, physically, while putting people to work. It succeeded at least in terms of the schools, libraries, auditoriums, and the like it left behind. It was a previous era’s attempt to recover from malaise and make America great again. But it was an effort that required hard work and sacrifice. Not so the make it great again of Donald Trump.Trump2

Waiting for the main event, the nearly overflowing crowd – 2,000+ people – is excited and anticipatory, waiting on the man that many see as a potential savior of our country, of our future. What fascinates me, and challenges logic, is that this savior is not one of them, did not rise out of the masses to come to save us, but instead is himself part of the moneyed elite that candidates on both sides are spending a great deal of time attacking of the aisle spend attacking. Somehow, the fact that Trump is not one of us adds to his power; it is plausible to think since he’s traveled in those rarefied circles he fully understands how to make the world do what he wants.

Tana Goertz, Trump’s Iowa co-chair gives a short warm up speech reminding folks that they have to caucus for anything to happen. Given the location, many of those at the event were from Illinois rather than Iowa, so the pitch made for filling out Trump commitment cards was lost on them. But both the call for committing to caucus and an additional enticement of a Trump T-shirt for signing up as a precinct leader provided some evidence that the Trump campaign in Iowa has pivoted to the necessary ground game. But that’s neither here nor there right now.

Goertz closes by calling out to the crowd in a way that almost felt chilling to me: The Trump train will steamroll anything in its way to the White House. While this may or may not be the case – the day after the rally the first poll showing Ben Carson ahead of Trump was released, and more have come since – the crowd responds with a roar.

What I feel in that roaring crowd is a palpable sense of desire for something, anything, that will somehow change things. What things? Well, that’s not so clear. In many cases people have specifics on their mind. And Trump himself, once he gets past the first 20+ minutes reading his poll results, does address a few issues. But for the most part, that’s not what people are excited about. Oh, sure, they cheer Trumps’ claim that he will lower taxes and simplify the tax code (“It will be beautiful,” he says.) And they seem to like the other policies he touches on. The crowd also appreciates the idea that, as Trump says, “Nobody controls me.” And they really go wild when he says “I’m a good Christian, when I’m president we will say Merry Christmas again.

But they aren’t really there for all that.

What they are there for is to see Trump as Trump, the ultimate salesman, who tells us that he is running because he’s tired of others failing. In particular he calls out Mitt Romney, saying Romney failed, so I have to do it myself. Trump, who no matter how much is spent against him will prevail because he is literally superman. He knows how it all works, and he will cut through it all by the force of his outsized will.

Trump3As Trump goes on with an hour-long stream-of-consciousness speech, I decide that the crowd basically just likes the language. They like the superlatives, the self-referential ego-driven commentary, and yes, the demagoguery. It touches them emotionally and in the end, the effect seems to be to make people feel good about themselves just because they were there to hear it all. The rhetoric hits home. American is losing, and keeps losing.

It is a depressing message and one other candidates use as well. I’m thinking here particularly of Bobby Jindal’s talk about the loss of the “idea of America.” But in Trump’s world that losing will end. Not might end, not might be fixed a little, but, as simply put by Trump, “We won’t lose any more. I will make us great. Hillary won’t have a clue about what’s happening with jobs going to other countries. Hillary would say we don’t like it, but would be hit by lobbyists. I’ll be hit, but they won’t have a chance, it’s over.” He goes on to say that he has the best people, and the best people can fix it. And the crowd continues to cheer. All that is needed to make this happen is the best people, and the best of the best is Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is superman. And like Star Trek’s Captain Picard, Donald Trump just has to say it to “make it so.” The will to make it happen is the power to make it happen. All that’s missing in Washington and America is someone who has the will to just fix it, and Donald Trump tells us he has it. Who wouldn’t want that?

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Leading Up to our 200th Poll Ever … A Look back at the 1970s


Celebrating the 200th

A Look Back at the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll: The 1970s

By Sonni Waknin

Sonni Waknin is a junior at Rutgers University. Sonni is the lead poll historian and a research associate with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

Here at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, we are about to approach our 200th poll ever – quite a milestone and a marker of just how long we have been polling New Jersey politics. The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll was the nation’s first university-based state survey when it was established with funding from the Wallace-Eljabar Fund in October 1971. It has been called many different names and has had many different directors over the past 44 years, but what has remained constant is its dedication to contributing to the public dialogue in the state; to access our over four decades of data, you can visit our extensive data archive. For more information on the poll’s history, check out our website: http://eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu/rutgers-eagleton-poll/

This is our first decade-by-decade analysis as we gear up for our 200th poll. We have an amazing team of interns who have been working very hard on researching our past and analyzing old questionnaires, press releases, and data. Special thanks to Sonni Waknin, Natalie DeAngelo, and Abigail Orr on this project.  

***

In American history, the 1970s is marked as a tumultuous decade. Filled with war, protests, and reform, the 1970s culture and counterculture was a driving force in changing the political atmosphere. Founded in 1971, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll cataloged the shift in public perception and opinion throughout the decade. Recurring themes in poll questions during this decade included education local government knowledge, reform, taxes, and drug use.

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll was founded as the nation’s first university based public opinion poll. One of the first major releases for the poll pertained to New Jersey state elections. The center’s major finding was that, with elections for State Senate and General Assembly only two weeks off, 85 percent of adults did not know which members of the two bodies were even up for election. The poll also asked a variety of questions on the public’s perception of New Jersey politics. Questions centered around government’s place in protecting the citizen from corruption and abuse by corporations.

Education appears to be a major theme throughout the ‘70s. Questions primarily asked during this decade focused on how states should fund school districts. One question asked respondents, “Local schools must be supported by some sort of tax money. If you had to choose, would you prefer paying for schools through the income tax or through property taxes?” 55 percent of respondents answered that they thought schools should be supported through income tax, while 33 percent of respondents believed that property taxes were the best method. In New Jersey, schools are funded through local property taxes, as well as funding from the state.

Another question asked was, “There are a number of ways to tell how well a student is doing in school. The student can be compared to other students, or the student can be evaluated on how much individual progress has been made during the course of the year. Finally, the student could be compared with some objective standards measuring the learning of important skills. Which one of these–comparison with others, individual progress, or objective standards–do you feel is the best way to tell how much a student has learned?” Sixty-five percent of respondents believed that students should be measured against their own individual achievement, and 20 percent supported objective standards. Only 10 percent of New Jerseyans supported other measures, such as being compared with others. Questions of how to measure schools’ effectiveness or how much children are achieving are questions still being asked today. The common core curriculum was recently put in place as a remedy and a standard to measure student performance; much debate has occurred over its implementation and impact, however.

Many of the questions asked in the 1970s are questions that are very applicable today. Education and taxes are two issues that have not lessened in importance by the public’s perception. Also, questions of how active one is in government or knowing about local elections are important to how political entities interact with citizens; in fact, in our latest poll over four decades later, we see very similar results. Today, many people do not know when state elections are held or even who their state representatives are. I guess we can say that even though a lot has changed since the 1970s, other things have certainly stayed the same.

Word Cloud of All Press Release Topics: 1971-1979

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