The recent advent of gridlock and hyper-partisanship in the United States Congress has raised questions about whether similar divides are occurring in state governments, and if so, why? To find out, researchers—working throughout 2018 and 2019 under a grant from the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD)—conducted a survey of registered lobbyists and public agency legislative liaison officers in all fifty states. They received over 1,200 completed mail and online surveys. The researchers hope that understanding the reasons behind politicians’ inability to demonstrate civility and reach bipartisan agreements will yield effective, purposeful interventions.
In Outside Looking In, scholars from across the country interpret the survey results. Using a variety of lenses, they present unique perspectives on civil discourse in state legislatures, revealing both regional and national insights. Chapters address findings on a variety of topics, including:
- effects of political culture heritage on perceptions of civil discourse phenomena and the impact of legislative professionalization,
- sentiments about civil discourse and perceptions of their own state legislature among lobbyists,
- a multivariate cross-state comparison of the relative impact of political culture, professionalism, and term limits,
- presumed and actual impact of term limits on civility,
- a comparison of lobbyists with and without prior legislative service, and
- effects of the rural/urban divide and state-level inequality across the states.
Also discussed are the efforts by the National Conference of State Legislatures to advance the cause of civil discourse, and NICD interventions to support civil discourse in state legislatures. Offering rare insights on discourse in state legislatures, this work is a must-read for political science scholars studying state governments, state-level lobbying, and civility in government, as well as for state legislators and public interest groups committed to enhancing civility in government.
“The volume combines sophisticated academic analysis with observations and wisdom from practitioners who are concerned about state legislative polarization, gridlock, and uncivil behavior.”—James A. Thurber, American University
AVAILABLE IN JUNE 2021
Illustrations / notes / index / 6″ x 9″ / 248 pages (2021)