People rely on other individuals and institutions they trust to inform their voting decisions. Traditionally, endorsements from other elected officials, institutions (such as local media), or the parties themselves have been hugely influential and coveted by campaigns. Trust in almost all of those individuals and institutions is declining precipitously.1 On the surface, it would seem that such a decline in trust would correlate with a decrease in the value of those endorsements, but that is not clear. We have seen, for example, a decrease in split-ticket voting, meaning that more people are voting straight down party lines. It is unclear whether that is reflective of party endorsements being meaningful or people simply being less informed. If there were alternative systems for endorsements from more trusted sources, would that make a difference?
There are numerous examples of online platforms that leverage distributed networks of individuals’ preferences to inform decision-making, and such platforms are rivaling and in many cases overtaking more traditional institutional endorsements. (People still review Zagat’s when deciding on a restaurant, but most young people go to Yelp first.)
Such platforms, particularly when they draw on an individual’s social graph, can have enormous influence over an individual’s decisions. There are new platforms emerging (Change.org’s ChangePolitics, for example) that aim to apply that potential to the political realm.
President, Pew Research Center
We’ve seen a long-term erosion in public trust in government and elected officials – just 19% say they can trust the federal government always or most of the time. But the federal government is not the only national institution viewed negatively by the public. A majority (56%) say large corporations have a negative impact on the country, while an identical percentage says the same about the entertainment industry. And nearly two-thirds (65%) say the national news media has a negative effect on the country. At the same time, six in ten online Millennials say they get political news from friends on Facebook in a given week, a larger percentage than any other news source.
Director of Strategy, National Republican Congressional Committee
Across the board, we are now able to get a wealth of data about what is working and what is not in our campaigns. This presents enormous potential for us to be much more rigorous in applying evidence-based practices. My suspicion is we will see significant changes in numerous aspects of how campaigns are conducted as a result in the coming years.
CEO, The Workers Lab
Supporting distributed networks that harness a collective voice of everyday people to expand who is a viable candidate will be central to enriching our democracy.
Executive Director, MoveOn.org Political Action
With the across-the-board decline in trust in traditional institutions, conventional endorsements from media or political figures matter less and less, while those from trusted messengers within one’s social network will matter more and more.
Professor of Public Policy, Political Science and Environment, Duke University
The loss of trust in traditional institutions–including political parties–creates an opportunity for developing new ways of helping citizens make informed voting decisions.
Founder, The New American Leaders Project
Lack of trust in existing political institutions and mechanisms is driving much of the sentiment we’re seeing in national politics. Re-establishing trust among current voters is important but so is creating trust among first-time and occasional voters, whose patterns of participation are less well developed and riper for change.
All answers: 1 = strongly disagree / 5 = strongly agree
How much do the conventional tactics for achieving this objective influence how reliant campaigns feel on narrow subsets as opposed to broad cross-sections of the electorate?
How much do you think the tactics for achieving this objective are likely to change in the coming decade?
How much opportunity do you see for advancing more People Powered tactics for achieving this objective via each lever?
Increase People Powered ROI
Decrease Conventional ROI