Study: Pa. citizens among least politically engaged in nation

Pennsylvania citizens rank last in the nation when it comes to the frequency with which they discuss politics and are less politically engaged than residents in other parts of the country, according to a report released today by the National Constitution Center and Penn State University.

The study calculated the state’s Civic Health Index based on political action, social connectedness and public work, such as attending community meetings and working with neighbors. Pennsylvania ranked in the lowest third of states in virtually all
measures of political action.

The frequency with which citizens discuss politics with family and friends declined a sharp 34.7 percent from last year’s report – only 20.9 percent of people talked about the issue frequently in 2010. The state also lagged behind in voter registration and turnout, ranking 33rd and 35th out of 50 states, respectively.

The news wasn’t all bad – the state fared much better when it came to community participation and connectedness. Pennsylvania ranked 15th in the nation as far as talking with neighbors about non-political subjects and 17th when it came to group participation, with 37.1 percent of residents belong to some type of community organization.

The study also reported that African Americans, seniors and college graduates are the most politically active in the state. 64 percent of African Americans reported at least one political action.

Seventy nine percent of college graduates engaged in at least one political act, compared with 36 percent of adults without a high school diploma. Pennsylvanians over the age of 65 are more than twice as likely to have reported at least one political action as those aged 18 to 24, with 68 percent versus less than a third.

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