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Localism alive and well in America

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Localism alive and well in America

Americans strongly favor local institutions for solving nation's challenges.

As partisan gridlock plagues Washington, Americans are increasingly looking to state and local institutions for innovative approaches to solving the country's most pressing challenges, according to poll results released today by The Allstate Corporation and National Journal.

The survey reveals an American public that is confident about their own local ingenuity, with 69% of Americans believing that new ideas and solutions to the country's challenges are more likely to come from state and local institutions compared to just 22% who believe that they will come from national institutions.

"Americans are taking the country's problems into their own hands and solving them through innovation at the local level." 

A majority of Americans (64%) think more headway is being made at the state and local level compared to the national level (26%). Two-in-three Americans (66%) believe that state and local institutions are more equipped to improve the way we educate people. More than six-in-ten Americans (63%) also believe that state and local institutions are better at finding new ways to provide opportunities for the disadvantaged and creating new jobs than national institutions. 

National institutions came out on top only with "finding new ways to save energy and improve the environment" with 51% of respondents saying that national entities will do a better job compared to 43% at the state and local level, according to poll results.

"Americans are taking the country's problems into their own hands and solving them through innovation at the local level," said Atlantic Media Editorial Director Ron Brownstein. "While faith has clearly eroded in national institutions and Americans remain uncertain about the direction of the country overall, the public displays much more confidence in the direction of their local community, and the capacity of local institutions to address the major challenges facing the nation."

The poll found that Americans believe local institutions provide the best opportunities for revitalizing local economies. Specifically, 89% of respondents believe that investments by local businesses would be most beneficial to address challenges facing their local area.  And, as for job growth, 62% said they see local businesses as more likely than national businesses, government, or non-profit groups to provide the best job opportunities.

Americans are also ready to move beyond "tried and tested" approaches to local challenges and are instead looking for more innovative approaches. By a wide margin, 71% say they prefer "trying new ideas and solutions, even if the outcomes may be uncertain" compared to 20% who prefer "relying on tried and tested ideas and solutions, even if it means a lack of new thinking."

Respondents also believe that they have greater ability today to drive this change. More than half (53%) say that, compared to 10 years ago, their personal resources like time and money allow them to make an impact in their local area. However, despite these resources, a plurality of Americans (44%) believe that average people have less influence on their local areas than 10 years ago. 

The poll had a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

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