Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


Date of this Version

March 2005


On Thursday, February 24th, 62 randomly selected residents of Lincoln/Lancaster County, Nebraska participated in a discussion about economic growth and quality of life in the City of Lincoln. The event was termed “A Community Conversation: Future of Lincoln.” The participants were surveyed both before and after the event to measure their opinions and knowledge of topics related to Lincoln’s economic growth and quality of life.

The effort – from the briefing materials sent to participants beforehand to the group discussions to the opportunity to present questions to a panel of experts – was modeled after the Deliberative Polling® format developed by Professor James Fishkin, currently Director at Stanford University’s Center for Deliberative Democracy ( Deliberative Polling combines random sampling techniques with small group deliberations. It aims to measure changes in attitudes and knowledge about public policy issues after participants have an opportunity to discuss and think about them in an informed way. Since its inception in 1988, Deliberative Polling has been employed in England, Australia, Denmark, and the United States. For the past few years, it has been used as part of PBS’s By the People project, an effort designed to hear what ordinary people have to say about important policy and political issues ( The University of Nebraska Public Policy Center has been involved in two of the By the People conversations that have been held in Nebraska ( The “Future of Lincoln” effort used the Deliberative Model to examine issues of local rather than national and international interest.

Surveyed questions were:
1. Lincoln should pursue an aggressive policy of economic growth.
2. Lincoln’s development policy favors big business at the expense of normal taxpayers.
3. I support the Antelope Valley Project.
4. I support the Downtown Master Plan.
5. I am willing to pay higher taxes to pay for the goals of the Downtown Master Plan.
6. I am willing to pay higher taxes to pay for the goals of the Antelope Valley Project.
7. I know a lot about the Antelope Valley Project.
8. I know a lot about the Downtown Master Plan.
9. A successful Downtown is crucial to Lincoln’s long-term success.
10. A policy of aggressive economic growth in Lincoln would benefit me personally.
11. Impact fees provide economic benefits to Lincoln.
12. Lincoln’s overall quality of life is improving.
13. In order to prevent school overcrowding, Lincolnites should pay higher property taxes to finance construction of more schools.
14. Lincoln should continue to pursue large development projects even if it means an increase in property taxes.
15. Property taxes should be raised if it results in improved city infrastructure.
16. Lincoln’s continued growth is threatening its quality of life.

A Community Conversation: Future of Lincoln was a collaborative project of Leadership Lincoln, the Lincoln Journal Star and the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center. Financial support was provided by the Cooper Foundation and the Woods Charitable Fund.

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