Sunday, December 15, 2013

Citizen Opinion - What Influences It?

I just finished a graduate degree in public leadership from Virginia State University. My research for the degree focused on the opportunity to improve citizen satisfaction with local government by leveraging the trends of social media and the internet.

I conducted  an online survey, receiving 153 responses from 20 states. 70% of the responses were from Virginia. I haven't determined the best way to release the short research paper I created for the course, but I wanted to show some of the more interesting results.

With the topic of the research being ways to improve citizen satisfaction with local government, I was very interested in the results from the following question: "Which things influence your opinion (positively or negatively) of your local government?". There were 10 answers, randomly ordered in a list, and the respondent could select as many as they liked.

Below is the chart that represents the results. What trends do you see?
First of all, this chart would suggest that social media does not heavily influence opinion of local government. Not good news for my research paper! There are other survey questions that highlight the importance of social media with regards to citizen communications.

Secondly, there is a clear break between the top 5 categories and everything else. The top 5 are mainly direct-service-delivery style activities. They are hands on. They do not rely on third parties to communicate. Citizens apparently care less about news broadcasts regarding taxes than the tax rate itself.

Thirdly, the impact of bad news from the Federal & State level is overstated. Anyone in local government will tell you citizens consider local government "guilty by association" when it comes to bad news from the Federal & State level. This research would suggest it is not as influential as we think.

Efficiency. Controlling waste. Openness. Transparency. Public Services. These are some of the basics of local government. This research suggests that if local government leaders want to improve citizen opinion they need to focus on those direct touch points with the citizens. Do the basics well. The citizens will respond to that.


Steve Fisher said...

Out of curiosity, are there any differences if you take the Virginia respondents out? If you break out the data by region?

Bill Schrier said...

Interesting results. Do you have any information on the respondents? It would be interesting to see if they work in government, ages, etc.

Barry Condrey said...

I have not further analyzed it, due primarily to time. The only other demographic I recorded is age. I have lots of other findings I will be reporting though. Thanks for the comments!