Hope, Philanthropy & Activism Among Americans
An analysis of survey reports by credible sources revealed a rise in activism and engagement in politics among Americans over the past decade with a significant growth following the emergence of Mr. Trump as the winner of the 2016 presidential election. While there have been a decline in political/charitable donations and political conversations among Americans.
How Americans' Activism Have Evolved
- A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll in 2018 reported that tens of millions of Americans are becoming political in reaction to Mr. Trump's elections, as such, are participating in protests in the U.S. over the past two years (2016). The poll established that since the beginning of 2016, one in every five Americans (20%) reported having participated in a street protest or political rally.
- A significant number (44%) of respondents were 50 or older, and "36% earn more than $100,000 a year. Far more are Democrats than Republicans. An equal percentage are men and women. An outsize share live in the suburbs."
- 19% of the poll respondents hinted that they have never before participated in any form of political protest or rally.
- The poll established that most of these new activists are motivated by criticism of Mr. Trump with 70% expressing disapproval of Mr. Trump, while 30% expressed support for his government.
- The poll also hinted that one-third of these new activists have expressed interest in participating in the next election as a "volunteer or work for a 2018 congressional campaign."
- Furthermore, the poll reported that before the gun violence rallies in March 2018, women's right (46%), environment and energy (32%), immigration (30%), LGBT (28%), and affordable healthcare/Obamacare (28%) were the five top protested issues in the U.S.
- In terms of female participation in activism, a 2020 Gender On The Ballot survey found that since the 2016 election, 55% of U.S. women reported that their participation in political activities has remained the same. However, 29% reported increased participation in political rallies and campaigns since 2016, while about 16% hinted that they are currently less involved. 31% of respondents also hinted that they will get more engaged in political activities ahead of this year's election compared to 9% that reported to be less involved.
- Among the respondents, 35% of Democrats women hinted having been especially motivated to participate in political activism over the last few years compared to Republican women (27%) and Independent women (23%).
- Another survey by Family Matters Study found that more teenage girls have become political activists following Mr. Trump's election in 2016. According to the survey, 16% of female respondents aged 15-18, who identified as Democrats, reported not having or willing to participate in any form of political protest. However, in 2017, this rose to 28% with a large population of this group becoming disillusioned with the state of politics in the U.S. which inspired their need to be heard. While for female Republicans with in the same age bracket, it declined from 13% in 2016 to 11% in 2017.
- A study by the Global Database of Events, Language and Tone Project (GDELT) on the current trend of activism in the U.S. over the past few months revealed that while the number of protests in the U.S. has increased, the number of protesters remained unchanged. According to the report, the number of protests in the country declined in early March following the COVID-19 pandemic. However, from mid-March, the number of protests began to rise and surged in mid-April as states began to impose sit-at-home orders.
- Following Mr. Trump's “LIBERATE” Virginia, Michigan, and Minnesota, the total number of protests in the U.S. peaked at over 400 protests on Monday 20 April.
How Americans' Engagement Have Evolved
- The election of Mr. Trump in 2016 led to millions of Americans that were once cynical bystanders to increase their engagements in the country through earnest participation in mass marches, congressional town meetings, and are taking a vocal stand for inclusion. "Membership in the ACLU and the League of Women Voters has swelled, as have subscriptions to leading newspapers."
- A large part of Mr. Trump's supporters were "first-time or first-time-in-a-long-time participants in politics" from communities that have been long overlooked by cosmopolitan political elites.
- The election of Mr. Trump in 2016 led to an upsurge in the creation of "political clubs, discussion circles, and teach-ins" which led to a rise in local activism and engagement.
- Election turnout is a relatively precise indicator of the engagement of the masses in politics. Michael McDonald’s United States Election Project (USEP) reported a lower turnout of eligible voters at 60.2% in 2016 compared to 62.2% turnout in 2008 and 60.7% in 2004.
- The turnout for the primary ballot was also lower in 2016 at 25.7% compared to 27.2% in 2008.
- As reported earlier, the emergence of Mr. Trump as the winner of the 2016 polls led to 29% of U.S. women getting involved in politics. This is evident with the 'Women’s March' in January 2017 against the inauguration of Mr. Trump. This mass protest remains the largest single-day demonstration in the history of the U.S.
- In terms of engagement trend by race, a study by the 2018 Pew Research Center revealed a reduced engagement by African-Americans in politics with more and more of this population choosing to identify as Independent (37%) over Democrats (33%) and Republicans (26%) due to a lack of trust.
- A study by the University of Texas on African-American voters hinted that during the midterm elections in 2018, women voters (55%) outnumbered men voters (52%).
- A poll by the Pew Research Center revealed that 60% of registered voters reported being more interested in politics in 2016 compared to 48% in 2012 and 63% in 2008.
How Americans' Philanthropic Activities Have Evolved
- A survey conducted by CNBC and Acorns established that only 8% of Americans have donated to the 2020 presidential elections with about 19% hinting that they intend to donate at some point. This includes 90% of Independents that have noted that they won't donate to the election.
- This represents a decline from the past trend in American donors during elections which rose from 6% in 1992 to 12% in 2016 according to a Pew Research Center report.
- However, with the exclusion of Independents from the national average, 34% of Democrats and 33% of Republicans have either donated or plan to donate to the presidential election.
- The report by Pew Research Center also identified a rising trend among small donors in the U.S. According to the report, 55% of donations to political groups in the 2016 elections were below $100, 32% were between $100 — $250, while 13% were above $250.
- A survey by ActBlue suggested that the average donation as of the first quarter of 2019 was $32.29 compared to $26.69 in 2017 and $34.40 in 2015 over the same period.
- The report by ActBlue also hinted that recurring contributors made up 18.9% of donors in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 26.6% in 2017 and 28.6% in 2015 over the same period. However, 64.2% of donors that donated through ActBlue for the 2018 elections were first-time donors.
- According to a study by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, charitable giving declined immediately after the 2016 elections.
- Although there was a significant rise in charitable giving for relevant progressive charities that were driven by women donors, the report by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy opined that it "can be attributed to the regular rise in giving toward the end of the calendar year" rather than due to the 2016 election.
- However, the victory of Mr. Trump at the 2016 polls triggered a surge in donations to organizations such as Planned Parenthood, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and others that pledged to fight his proposed policies.
How Americans' Political/Social Cause Conversations Have Evolved
- Pew Research Center published a study in 2019 which revealed that 85% of Americans think that the tone and nature of political debate in the country have become more negative. Also, 85% thinks it has become less interesting, 76% thinks it is less fact-based, 60% thinks it is less focused on issues, while 46% thinks it is less entertaining. Among these participants, 55% attribute this change for the worse to Mr. Trump.
- The report also revealed that 57% of Mr. Trump's supporters are willing to discuss Mr. Trump with a group of people who don't like him compared to 43% of non-supporters that reported being willing to discuss Mr. Trump with a group of Trump supporters. Overall, 55% of Americans hinted that they would "feel at least somewhat comfortable talking about Trump with someone they do not know well; just 25% say they would feel very comfortable doing this."
- Furthermore, 50% of Americans reported that they find it stressful and frustrating discussing politics with people they disagree with in 2019 compared to 2016 (46%).
- A Gallup survey revealed that 77% of Americans are greatly divided about the most important values in the country compared to 21% who think otherwise just after the 2016 polls. Notably, 49% of Americans believed that the emergence of Mr. Trump from the 2016 polls will further divide the nation compared to the 45% that thinks he would do more to unite the country.
- Another 2016 study by Pew Research Center revealed how the political conversation/interest of Americans varied before the 2016 elections when compared to previous elections. According to the report, economy (84%) and terrorism (80%) were the top two issues for voters in 2016 compared to 2008 when 87% chose economy and 68% said it was terrorism.
- Another vital topic that was noted by the report was how important the issue with immigration was during the past elections. The report hinted that in 2016, 70% of voters identified immigration as being important for their vote compared to 41% in 2012 and 54% in 2008.
- A separate poll by Pew Research Center established that compared to the 2008 (72%) and 2012 (67%) elections, 80% of registered American voters hinted that they had "thought 'quite a lot' about the election." This shows rising interest among Americans in politics.
- Furthermore, 85% of participants reported that they followed news about the presidential candidates in 2016 compared to 72% in 2012 and 81% in 2008.