Date of this Version
Nebraska Rural Poll Research Report 15-2, August 2015.
Trends have consistently shown that the population in nonmetropolitan counties is decreasing as a proportion of the total population of the state. These trends have the potential to significantly impact two areas of rural community sustainability, effective community leadership and community involvement. Rural communities rely on volunteers for many community development activities as well as local leadership positions. In smaller communities in particular, reduced populations requires community members to take on multiple roles. Rural Nebraskans are aware of the importance of good community leadership when faced with such issues. Most rural Nebraskans rated effective community leadership as absolutely essential for successful communities in last year’s Rural Poll. However, if the current trends continue, rural citizens will not only have less representation in both state and national government, but could also have to rely more heavily on fewer citizens’ involvement in community and political activities in order to address some of the issues they are facing. Given these trends and challenges, how involved are rural Nebraskans in community and political activities? Are they currently registered to vote and how frequently do they vote? How do they feel about the leadership in their community? This paper provides a detailed analysis of these questions. This report details 1,991 responses to the 2015 Nebraska Rural Poll, the twentieth annual effort to understand rural Nebraskans’ perceptions. Respondents were asked a series of questions about their community involvement and community leadership. Comparisons are made among different respondent subgroups, that is, comparisons by age, occupation, region, etc. Based on these analyses, some key findings emerged.