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How involved are Americans in politics and their communities?

Many Americans like to communicate with their politicians and participate in organizations to make their voices heard. This is one of the key freedoms that Americans have — and they continue to take advantage of as much as possible — not only during elections but throughout the year. While many Americans like to participate in political and civic activities — some types of people do so more than others. Who are they and where do they live?

Contacting a politician

The role of a politician in the U.S. is to be the voice of his or her constituents. One way this is done is through listening to voice mails and reading letters (and e-mails) from those in their voter base. About 7.5% of Americans contact politicians. This could be a politician at any level of government — local, state or national.

Esri, the world’s leader in geographic information systems, provides market potential data that includes a Market Potential Index. The index measures the probability that adults or households in a specific area will exhibit certain consumer behaviors compared to the U.S. average. The index is tabulated to represent a value of 100 as the overall demand for the U.S.

The areas with the highest likelihood of residents that would contact a politician are in states on the Eastern Seaboard, around Denver and in several areas of the West including the coast of California.

ZIP codes with some of the highest potential for contacting a politician include 06883 (Weston, Conn.), 10504 (Armonk, N.Y.) and 60022 (Glencoe, Ill.). Each of these ZIP codes has a market potential index of 225, meaning a resident in those ZIP codes is 2.25 times more likely than the average American to call or write to a politician.

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What type of person is most likely to contact their politician? Esri has also developed the Tapestry Segmentation system that classifies U.S. residential neighborhoods into 65 unique market segments based on socioeconomic and demographic characteristics.

The Tapestry Segment with the highest likelihood of contacting a politician is Top Rung. Residents in neighborhoods dominated by this Tapestry Segment are at least two times more likely than the average American to contact a politician. Residents of neighborhoods dominated by the Tapestry Segments of Silver and Gold, Metropolitans, Metro Renters, Urban Chic, Laptops and Lattes, Suburban Splendor, Connoisseurs, Wealthy Seaboard Suburbs and Exurbanites are 1.5 times more likely than the average American to contact their politician.

Although residents of these Tapestry neighborhoods are involved with their communities and politics, they are very different in age, income, family type and housing choices. Residents of Top Rung, Connoisseurs, Suburban Splendor, Wealthy Seaboard Suburbs, and Laptops and Lattes neighborhoods are all wealthy and highly educated. Differences are their ages and household types; for example, Laptops and Lattes residents are in their 30s, hold professional jobs and live in single or shared households. The others are older and married, either with children still at home or are empty nesters. Silver and Gold residents are retired and living the good life in warmer climates. Residents of Metro Renters neighborhoods are young, educated singles, just beginning their careers. They are less affluent but very involved with community and political activities.

Attended public meeting on town or school affairs

The right to be heard publicly is one that many people like to use. About 11.6% of the population has attended a public meeting on town or school affairs. People care about their local communities and want to participate and have their voices heard.

Areas with high levels of likely participation are in the Northwest, various areas around the West and along the Eastern Seaboard. The ZIP codes with some of the highest likelihood of people attending public meetings are 35221(Birmingham, Ala.) and 48235 (Detroit). Each of these ZIP codes have an index of 176 for attending public meetings meaning residents are 1.76 times more likely than the average American to attending a public meeting on town or school affairs.

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Residents of neighborhoods with dominant Tapestry Segments most likely to attend public town or school meetings are Connoisseurs, Exurbanites, Laptops and Lattes, Metropolitans, Metro Renters, Silver and Gold, Suburban Splendor, Top Rung, Urban Chic and Wealthy Seaboard Suburbs. Each of these neighborhoods has an index of at least 150 for attending a public town or school meeting meaning residents are 1.5 times more likely than the average American to attend. Residents in neighborhoods dominated by the Top Rung Tapestry segment have an index of 200 or higher.

Differences between these residents are most apparent in their choice of neighborhoods. Residents of Silver and Gold neighborhoods are wealthy, educated seniors; most are retired from professional occupations. Urban Chic neighborhoods are comprised of educated couples who love a sophisticated lifestyle in the close-in suburbs. Exurbanites prefer an affluent lifestyle with more open space, while Laptops and Lattes neighborhoods are filled with residents who love big city life without the responsibilities of homeownership and children.

Civic club membership

Civic clubs are a key part of many communities as they are set up to help local areas. About 1.8% of Americans participate in civics clubs, though residents in some areas of the country are more likely to participate than others.

Sections of the Eastern Seaboard, Midwest and West are more likely than other areas of the country to have people participate in civics clubs. ZIP codes 28374 (Pinehurst, N.C.) and 32963 (Vero Beach, Fla.) have some of the highest indexes in the U.S. for residents who participate in civic clubs. The index in both areas is 241, meaning residents there are 2.41 times more likely than the average American to participate in civics clubs.

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Residents of neighborhoods dominated by Tapestry Segments Connoisseurs and Silver and Gold are most likely to participate in civic clubs. These residents have an index of 200, meaning they are two times (or more) likely to participate in civic clubs.

Residents of these neighborhoods are very different in age; both groups are wealthy. Shopping is a fine art with Connoisseurs, while golf and travel figure prominently in lifestyle of Silver and Gold neighborhoods. Both groups are well educated. Connoisseurs hold high-paying management, professional and sales jobs. Most Silver and Gold residents are retired from professional careers.

Why does this matter?

Not everyone participates in their communities. This could be due to a variety of reasons — time, energy, interest and more. Politicians — and really anyone involved in our government — should understand that everyone doesn’t participate. If politicians and civic leaders know who participates, they may want to reach out to those that aren’t involved to get their opinion on issues and decisions that may affect their lives. Many simply may not know how or where to participate — even if they want to.

More information about Esri’s data can be found at or to learn more about Esri in general, go to

Pam Allison is a digital media, marketing strategist and location intelligence consultant. You can visit her blog at