Despite its sour economy and squabbling legislators, Connecticut has something other states envy: Residents who connect. They eat dinner together, talk politics, trust their local institutions more than the national average and show other strong signs of healthy social behavior. Every state should be so lucky.
At a time when this state seems down on itself, when it's licking its wounds from losing General Electric to Boston and worried about its future, Connecticut should hail the report showing that it is still in the pink of civic health, even if it's slipped a notch from past years. This is an engaged state, not the sort of community that Robert Putnam described in his famous 2002 book "Bowling Alone" as distrusting and detached.
"Connecticut residents demonstrate significantly stronger levels of engagement than the national average," says the 2016 Connecticut Civic Health Index. "They participate at higher rates of volunteering, attending public meetings, charitable giving, talking with and trusting neighbors, voting in local elections, and having confidence in the media or public schools."
But there are a few disquieting signs in the report, which is the effort of an impressive group that includes the National Conference on Citizenship, a congressionally chartered organization, and DataHaven, a New Haven nonprofit whose mission is "to improve quality of life by collecting, sharing and interpreting public data."
For example, though Nutmeggers do vote — two-thirds of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2012 presidential election, more than the national average — where this state didn't do so well was in its voter registration rate. Only 70.5 percent of eligible adults were registered in the last presidential election, putting Connecticut 34th among states. That's possibly because this state has been slow to adopt such conveniences as streamlined voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles.