Civility study Nicholas Lovrich

Nicholas Lovrich, emeritus professor of political science at Washington State University, presents the results of a new national study of legislative civility at Boise State University on Nov. 19.

Civility has declined at the Idaho Legislature, but not as much as in other states or in the nation’s Capitol, according to a new study released Tuesday at Boise State University. BSU researchers joined those from 10 other universities around the nation in the study, which was led by Washington State University and funded by the National Institute for Civil Discourse and WSU. It surveyed more than 1,300 lobbyists who work in state legislatures in all 50 states, and followed up on a survey three years earlier of legislators themselves.

Boise State University political scientist emeritus Gary Moncrief, who participated in the study, said, “Everyone said, ‘Yeah, we’re better than D.C., and that’s because we have to do a budget every year, and it has to be balanced.’ … Most people don’t appreciate that.”

But the survey also showed that Idaho’s not immune to a national trend toward less civility, less compromise and more polarization in civic discourse, accompanied by declining trust in U.S. government institutions.

“There’s a broad feeling that something’s wrong, that something’s broken,” said Nicholas Lovich, the lead researcher and an emeritus professor at Washington State University, “that we used to do things in a way that wasn’t so nasty and wasn’t so horrible.” You can read my full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required).

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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