Our Top Research in 2020

Explore the Ash Center’s ten most popular papers from the past year 

Each year, the Ash Center works with experts from around the world to publish research and writing on some of the most salient topics relevant to democratic governance, government innovation, and Asia public policy. Touching on issues as varied as Chinese public opinion, to voter engagement, and COVID-19 relief, the work of our scholars has had an important impact in the field of public policy.   

We invite you to explore our top ten publications below. To find more of the latest Ash Center research, visit our website.

Understanding CCP Resilience: Surveying Chinese Public Opinion Through Time  

Edward Cunningham, Tony Saich, and Jessie Turiel, July 2020 

Sharing the findings of the longest-running independent effort to track Chinese citizen satisfaction with government performance, this report shows how Chinese citizen satisfaction with government has increased virtually across the board—from national policies to the conduct of local town officials. 

Lift Every Voice: The Urgency of Universal Civic Duty Voting 

The Universal Voting Working Group, July 2020  

In this report, released jointly by the Ash Center and Brookings Governance Studies Program, a diverse group of 25 experts in US politics, elections, and civil rights make the case for universal civic duty voting—mandatory participation in elections—in the US.  

The Analytics Playbook for Cities: A Navigational Tool for Understanding Data Analytics in Local Government, Confronting Trade-Offs, and Implementing Effectively  

Amen Ra Mashariki and Nicolas Diaz, August 2020  

A go-to guide for city practitioners thinking about naming their first CDO or starting their first analytics team, this policy brief explores both the benefits of civic analytics as well as the potential hazards.   

Science, Technology, & Democracy: Building a Modern Congressional Technology Assessment Office 

Zach Graves and Daniel Schuman, January 2020 

Federal legislators have shown themselves to be unprepared to reckon with emerging technologies and their effects on society. This paper offers recommendations and a road map for the future success of a restarted technology assessment office in Congress.  

Dissecting the US Treasury Department’s Round 1 Allocations of CARES Act COVID‐19 Relief Funding for Tribal Governments 

Randall K.Q. Akee, Eric C. Henson, Miriam R. Jorgensen, and Joseph P. Kalt; May 2020  

In the first of many reports on COVID-19 relief for tribal governments in the US, the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development team dissects the Department of the Treasury’s formula for distributing first-round CARES Act funds to Indian Country. In this initial study, the team finds that Treasury employed a population data series that produced arbitrary and capricious “over-” and “under-representations” of tribes’ enrolled citizens. 

Fiscal Strategies to Help Cities Recover—And Prosper 

Stephen Goldsmith and Charles "Skip" Stitt, May 2020  

Facing severe fiscal defecits due to the pandemic, many public managers will have to deploy a host of tactical cost-cutting measures. This paper suggests a number of tactics that can help address the current crisis as well as prepare cities for the future.  

Disrupting the Party: A Case Study of Ahora Madrid and Its Participatory Innovations 

Quinton Mayne and Cecilia Nicolini, September 2020  

This case study examines the rise of Ahora Madrid, a progressive electoral alliance that—to the surprise of onlookers—managed to gain political control, just a few months after being formed, of the Spanish capital following the 2015 municipal elections. 

COVID-19 Crisis Leadership Essentials for Mayors 

Elizabeth Patton, Gaylen Moore, and Jorrit de Jong; August 2020

This year, the public relied on local leaders to navigate the COVID-19 crisis—to respond wisely, lead a safe and strong recovery, and rebuild communities in ways that make cities stronger, more sustainable, more resilient, and safe for all. Throughout the spring of 2020, the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative held eleven sessions on crisis leadership for city leaders responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. For city leaders who missed the sessions—and those looking to refresh their memories—the initiative published a compendium of tips, practices, and considerations.

A Turbulent Decade: The Changes in Chinese Popular Attitudes toward Democracy 

Yinxian Zhang, August 2020 

What does the Chinese public think about democracy and authoritarianism? This paper uses a novel data set of Chinese social media posts generated between 2009 and 2017 to investigate the changes in popular attitudes toward democracy in the past decade. 

Union Impact on Voter Participation—And How to Expand It 

Tova Wang, May 2020 

In this report, Democracy Visiting Fellow Tova Wang explains both the efforts to weaken unions and the voice of working people and how, going forward, we can reform the laws and how labor is structured such that it not only continues to facilitate voter participation but enhances it. 


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