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Survey Tracks Impact of Growth on Civic Life


Growth Affecting Inland Political and Civic Engagement

UCR political scientist Karthick Ramakrishnan finds that demographic changes are influencing party affiliations and volunteerism.

(July 20, 2007)

Karthick Ramakrishnan

Karthick Ramakrishnan

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — Explosive growth in the Inland region of Southern California is producing a population that is more diverse ethnically, less Republican and less likely to volunteer in civic organizations, according to a survey by a UC Riverside political scientist.

“The Inland Empire is a region undergoing profound demographic changes, both with respect to racial and ethnic diversity and to the influx of hundreds of thousands of residents,” wrote Karthick Ramakrishnan, an assistant professor of political science and the author of “Survey of Political and Civic Engagement in the Inland Empire.” (View the report by clicking on the link below.)

“Policy analysts are beginning to pay attention to the demographic changes under way in the Inland Empire, and the challenges they pose to issues such as infrastructure, education, housing and socioeconomic mobility.”

No one has performed a detailed examination of civic and political participation in the region until now, however, Ramakrishan said.

Ramakrishnan’s survey is part of a larger project funded by the James Irvine Foundation on community organizations, civic participation and political participation among residents in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Among his findings:

- Just over one-half of eligible voters in the Inland Empire are closely following the presidential primaries, with African Americans the most engaged ethnic or racial group (61 percent are following very closely or fairly closely).

- Of voters who identify themselves as Republican, 24 percent favor former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, followed by Arizona Sen. John McCain, 15 percent. A large proportion of Republicans (32 percent) remain undecided. Democratic voters favor New York Sen. Hillary Clinton (35 percent) over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama (16 percent) and former Vice President Al Gore (16 percent), who has not entered the race, beats out fellow Democrats John Edwards and Bill Richardson.

- While the region leans more Republican than the rest of the state, newer residents (those who have lived in their communities for fewer than five years) are less likely to identify with the Republican party than longer-term residents (36 percent to 42 percent), are more likely to identify themselves as independents (20 percent vs. 11 percent).

- Newer residents are also less likely to belong to civic organizations (19 percent vs. 28 percent) or serve as an officer or volunteer in those groups (9 percent to 15 percent).

- Residents who have lived in their communities for 10 or more years are more likely than newcomers to have attended public meetings (17 percent vs. 13 percent) or signed petitions (32 percent vs. 27 percent).

The survey examines political interests and preferences among the region’s residents, based on 2,075 responses to a telephone survey conducted by Interviewing Service of America between May 25 and July 5, 2007. The margin of error ranges from 2 percent for the general population to 8 percent Asian Americans.

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