Political participation is an activity that has the intent or effect of influencing government action. The most common form of political participation is voting. Other methods of participation include election campaigning, contacting public officials, joining and/or supporting interest groups, and engaging in unconventional political acts, such as protest demonstrations.
Political science research shows that political participation rates vary based on: income age race/ethnicity gender
The most important factors influencing individual participation are: personal resources psychological engagement voter mobilization community involvement
The 2004 and 2008 presidential elections suggest that the United States is experiencing a voting revival. Massive voter mobilization efforts GOTV campaigns Increase in battleground states High public interest in the elections Important national decisions on the war on terror and the declining economy; hot-button issues such as gay marriage, healthcare reform.
When compared to other industrialized democracies, the United States has relatively low voter participation rates, but citizens tend to be more active than those in other nations in some other areas of political participation.
The characteristics of individuals who are more likely to participate politically than others are: older employed better educated Married own their homes attend church identify with a political party belong to a political organization identify with their ethnic group, particularly if they believe their group suffers discrimination
The nature of America’s constitutional system of government makes it difficult to see a relationship between individual participation and public policy. For the most part, the impact of the typical individual acting alone is limited to local election contests and local issues of narrow focus. However, research has shown that the collective impact of individual participation can significantly influence policy.