Vote 2004On October 16, just weeks before the national election, nearly 2000 Americans in communities around the country from Seattle to Pittsburgh and Cleveland to Houston joined together in a common deliberation about what’s at stake for the nation as they approach the polls.

This democratic dialogue is the product of an unprecedented local and national cooperation among community organizations, By the People: America and the World, and the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). The focus was on two key national challenges – maintaining both national security and American jobs in the global economy – with the ideas at issue coming from the campaigns and surrounding political discourse. The deliberations were held almost simultaneously in 17 communities

[Albuquerque, NM; Baton Rouge, LA; Boise, ID; Charlottesville, VA; Cleveland, OH; Detroit, MI; Houston, TX; Kansas City, MO; Lexington, KY; Lincoln, NE; Miami, FL; New Haven, CT; Pittsburgh, PA; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA; Seattle, WA; and St. Louis, MO]

After day-long “Citizen Deliberations,” Americans from ten cities across the United States said they believed establishing a democracy in Iraq was less important than ensuring the country has a stable government. They also strongly favored involving the United Nations or other countries in the rebuilding of Iraq and rejected the notion that the United States should be able to unilaterally invade other countries that appear to pose a threat, without international support.

They expressed their views in a unique experiment in civic dialogue that took place Saturday in Baton Rouge, Green Bay, Kansas City, Kearney, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Rochester, San Diego, Sarasota, and Seattle. In each city, a scientific random sample of the community was invited to consider America’s national security and trade policies, while a randomly selected “control group” of citizens receiving no such invitation was asked the same questions.

The participants spent the day learning about issues related to America’s role in the world and discussing them among themselves and with bipartisan panels of experts. At the end of the day, they were scientifically surveyed via a process called Deliberative Polling. Thus, the contrast between the participants and the control group provides a picture of the ways in which public opinion on these issues might look different if people had more information and spent more time thinking about them. 

Research

Results

Procedures

Vote 2004

This presentation covers the credentials and policy positions of George W. Bush and John Kerry, the Republican and Democratic candidates for president. Vote 2004 has been developed jointly by the Center for Deliberative Democracy and the Political Communication Laboratory at Stanford University, and by By the People. The policy issues highlighted include the economy, energy, healthcare, homeland security, and Iraq. The primary source material consists of excerpts from candidates’ issue platforms and speeches. Multimedia content is taken from coverage of speeches and other campaign events. A selection of the candidates’ political advertisements is also provided.