States were once seen as the ‘laboratories of democracy’ with an emphasis on local concerns and values. But today state legislatures have become the battlefield for partisan politics in the worst sense. Often packed with primaries won by the more extreme candidates in gerrymandered districts, they tend to represent a minority of the state’s electorate.
In this regard, it is more important than ever to find ways to represent the informed opinion of the citizens. The use of rigorous Deliberative Polling® techniques developed by James Fishkin at Stanford or systematic convenience samples using survey registries can actually provide state legislators with the detailed information about public opinion that they need when considering policies affecting the citizens of their state.
Buy-in from a range of bi-partisan representatives as well as the Office of the Governor will be necessary for the results of the Deliberative Forums to have ‘consulting power.’
Campuses as host sites in demographically diverse areas across the state can provide a quality assured setting for registration and staffing support for all aspects in the design process, including same day quantitative data entry of the surveys for quick initial results.