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Civic Engagement

When a community is civically engaged, residents have a deeper connection to their neighborhoods and each other, creating a stronger, more vibrant, and inclusive city. The Omaha-Council Bluffs area is known for its philanthropy and friendliness, but few in our community are working collaboratively with neighbors to solve problems, and we are less politically engaged than other regions of our size.

Diversity of Elected Officials

While women make up 50% of the population, their representation in local and state government is only about 25%.

In city government, women are under-represented in Omaha, Bellevue, and Council Bluffs, as well as in the legislative representation from Douglas and Sarpy Counties.

The lack of diversity in our local and state offices mirrors a lack of diversity on the national level.

Just as we see within our own local and state leadership, public leadership at a federal level does not mirror the population it represents. Congress represents a United States population made up of approximately 50% women but only 25% of U.S. representatives are female.

Volunteering & Philanthropy

A large percentage of individuals in our community are giving or volunteering.

Volunteer rates and the percentage of people giving at least $25 in the last year were consistently higher for people who are older (and have a higher income). Volunteering and philanthropic giving are more common among members of Generation X, those who are 40-56 years old.

Omaha and Council Bluffs rates of giving and volunteering are higher than national averages.

Our local volunteer rate is consistent with the state’s rate. However, we are higher in the percentage of individuals who give, when compared to the national rate.

Neighborhood Connectivity

One in five residents reports working with neighbors to fix or improve something in the community.

Rates of collaboration vary by age and education. Individuals who are older and have a bachelor’s degree or higher were more likely to report working with their neighbors.

Our neighbor connectivity is consistent with the national average.

The Omaha-Council Bluffs area sees slightly lower rates of working with neighbors than the state of Nebraska but is on track with the national average.

Voter Participation

Recent local voter turnout rates have increased by over 24%.

Since 2014, the Omaha-Council Bluffs area has consistently seen a voter turnout rate between 43% and 60% in both local and state (midterm) elections. In presidential elections, however, that rate has jumped, particularly in the most recent election.

Local voter turnout rates have been higher than state and national rates.

Across the state and country, turnout rates in the 2020 election were higher than in 2016. Our local turnout rates also increased, and we remained higher than state and local rates.

Data Sources:

U.S. Census American Community Survey 2016 5-Year Estimates Table DP05, City of Omaha, City of Council Bluffs, City of Bellevue, Nebraska & Iowa Legislature, Center for American Women & Politics

U.S. Census Current Population Survey. Volunteering & Civic Engagement Supplements. Data was provided by the National Conference on Citizenship.

Douglas, Sarpy, & Pottawattamie County Election Commissions, The Bipartisan Policy Center, The Election Project

Civic Engagement Findings

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