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In the Fall of 2004, the Congressional Institute contracted with the Charlton Research Company to conduct 10 focus groups of “Informed Americans” in Phoenix, Arizona; Atlanta, Georgia; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Alexandria, VA; and San Francisco, CA.

The purpose of this study was to explore attitudes towards what Informed Americans believe to be the most significant challenges facing the world over the next 5-10 years.

The following were the primary findings:

• Technology and global demographics are largely seen as uncontrollable realities that need to be continually addressed.
• The political class is not communicating with informed Americans on the challenges that matter.
• The major parties are seen as lacking in leadership of policy challenges, making informed Americans more receptive to the idea of third parties.
• There is a strong demand for behavioral change, not institutional change.

In terms the major drivers of change for the future, focus group participants cited the following:

• Technology and technological advancements
• Global Demographics
• Culture and beliefs
• Current Historical Context
• Role and Obligation of Political Leadership

Focus group participants listed the following domestic issues as challenges for the future:

• Healthcare
• Social Security
• Environment
• Education
• Energy
• The Economy
• Crime

Views toward the Media and Politics
Informed Americans:

• Believe that the major news media presents current events in a biased and oversimplified way.
• Seek out alternative sources of news from cable stations and the Internet.
• Acknowledge that all sources of Internet news are not reliable.
• Believe that partisan politics are getting in the way of resolving serious problems.
• Think that the world is changing faster than our political institutions.

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