The Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics

A bipartisan research and teaching institute dedicated to increasing understanding of the political process with special emphasis on political parties, grassroots activity, and ethical behavior.

For students

Expert resources

Informed Citizen Akron 

American elections – especially in swing states – are bitter, uninformative experiences. Many Americans, even those of us who vote consistently, feel alienated and marginalized by campaigns and the media coverage around them.

It’s no surprise that campaigns tend to produce more heat than light – choosing to drive people apart instead of focusing on our shared goals – it seems to work for them. But it’s not working for our democracy. In most elections, the vast majority of the electorate doesn’t show up to vote, including in the recent presidential primaries. The numbers will look better in November, but even then, likely a third of eligible voters will sit it out. Americans, clearly, are frustrated.

It’s time for a more substantive, engaging conversation about politics, elections, and the issues that affect us all. That’s why we’re working the Jefferson Center and a consortium of Ohio media organizations, led by the Akron Beacon Journal, to launch Informed Citizen Akron.

Informed Citizen Akron will shift the traditional model of media coverage dictated by campaigns and national stories, instead focusing on civil, substantive discussion of critical issues. With our media and community partners, we’ll create opportunities for Ohio voters to break through the divisive campaign rhetoric and drive more informative, more inspiring coverage of the 2016 presidential election.

Our aim is to create a narrative for the election that focuses on the issues that matter most to Akron and Ohio residents. To do that, we have to put voters first. That means listening to people and engaging Ohioans directly to tell media what they need to know.

From now until Election Day, we’ll focus on three things:

  1. What are the issues that really matter to voters?
  2. What are the candidate’s substantive stances on those issues?
  3. How can local and state media help drive a more productive public conversation about the election that informs and encourages voters?

To do that, our team at the Bliss Institute will conduct three in-depth polls statewide to assess Ohioans attitudes toward the campaigns and media coverage of the election. At the Jefferson Center, we will engage citizens to learn about how media covers elections, to learn and talk about the issues, the candidates, and ways Ohio media can better cover the election so that voters can make more informed decisions at the polls. Media outlets throughout Ohio will use the feedback generated through polling and public conversations to shift their coverage beyond the horse race and provide information that resonates with voters and improves the public discourse about the election.

Ultimately, Informed Citizen Akron will:

  • lead to more informed and engaged citizens,
  • increase the level of trust between local media and residents, and
  • provide a model for constructive collaboration between citizens and media to promote a more informative, more meaningful electoral process.

For more information, visit the Jefferson Center website here

Poll: Akron Buckeye Poll: 2015 Ohio Presidential Politics

The 2015 Akron Buckeye Poll investigates underlying attitudes toward the 2016 presidential election in Ohio. The evidence suggests a close contest for the open seat in the White House, a sharp contrast with 2008—the previous open seat race. The state of the Ohio economy is a critical difference between the two elections. The poll indicates that few Ohioans have firm views on Democratic or Republican candidates, but among those that do, the early presidential race resembles the national contest.

Check out the full report here

Poll: Akron Buckeye Poll: 2015 Ohio Ballot Issues

The 2015 Akron Buckeye Poll investigates public opinion among registered voters about three proposed constitutional amendments on the 2015 general election ballot: Issue 1 (redistricting reform), Issue 2 (anti-monopoly provision), and Issue 3 (legalize marijuana). The survey provides a baseline for understanding public support for the ballot issues during the final weeks of the campaign.

View the full report


Poll: Clinton in the lead, but nearly half of Democrats want Biden to run

Nearly half of likely Democratic primary voters (48%) say that Vice President Joe Biden should get into the presidential race, expressing a strong sentiment that they want to consider an alternative to Hillary Clinton, according to the Bliss Institute/Zogby Analytics poll released Aug. 5, 2015.

See the results

Poll: Strong support for Trump among republican primary voters

Donald Trump leads the Republican presidential field with 25% among likely GOP primary voters, according to The University of Akron’s Bliss Institute of Applied Politics and Zogby Analytics poll released Aug. 4, 2015.

See the results

Bliss in the Media

Dr. Green comments on the ‘Trump effect’ in Ohio-

The Columbus Dispatch quotes professor John Green in a discussion about Ohio presidential primary voting trends and how those trends might translate into voter preferences for the election in November.

Dr. Cohen comments on Trump's VP strategy -

Professor David Cohen is quoted in the News-Herald, Newark Advocate, Mansfield News Journal, and the Coshocton Tribune regarding potential Republican vice presidential running mates.

Big data and negative advertising: UA study looks at micro-targeting used by campaigns on the electorate -

In continuing coverage, visiting college lecturer Kathleen Kennedy comments on the results of her research on negative political ads on WEWS-TV.  89.7 WSKU reports on the use of big data for political outreach that will be tracked by the Ohio Media Project, a collaboration that includes UA’s Bliss Institute of Applied Politics.

UA study looks at the impact of negative political ads-

Visiting college lecturer Kathleen Kennedy comments on her research that analyzes how the electorate responds to political attack ads in The Toledo Blade, 89.7 WKSU, WEWS-TV, Canton Repository,, Lancaster Eagle-Gazette and the Akron Beacon Journal.

Professor David Cohen discusses recent events in the presidential primaries -

Professor David Cohen discusses recent events in the presidential primaries on 1590 WAKR (audio not available).


See news archives.

2016 Republican National Convention announcement

John Green, Bliss Institute director and distinguished professor of political science in UA’s Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences, was interviewed for coverage of Cleveland hosting the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Contact Us

Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics
The University of Akron
Olin 325
Akron, OH 44325-1914

Office: 330-972-5182
Fax: 330-972-5479


About us | Alumni & Friends
VOXpop Newsletters

Bliss International Campaign Fellows

Bliss International Campaign Fellows

Learn more

Follow this link to learn more about the program and download your application today!