Only 21 percent of us told researchers that we talk about politics frequently, according to the survey, a project led by the National Conference on Citizenship.
"Pennsylvania is a swing state in this presidential election," said Alison Young, vice president of public engagement at the National Constitution Center. "So while the rest of the nation is talking about how we're going to vote, we're apparently not discussing it ourselves."
Perhaps not surprisingly, residents of Washington have no problem opining about the political landscape. They top the list, with South Carolina a close second. Joining us at the bottom is Delaware, which ranked dead last.
But we have touted our state for two centuries as the birthplace of American democracy. We have no problem yakking about everything from the weather to who makes a better hoagie. And try bringing up the Eagles or Steelers in a room of Pennsylvanians without discovering everyone else's opinion.
So what gives?
The numbers speak for themselves, said J. Michael Hogan, the study's coauthor and director of Pennsylvania State University's Center for Democratic Deliberation.
Compiled from Census data and figures provided by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the study attempted to measure such factors as social connectedness, public work and civic health.
Hogan, for one, is loath to guess what's behind Pennsylvanians' seeming silence on politics. "We can speculate on reasons for the numbers," he said. "But we didn't feel we were in a position to draw any conclusions."
That doesn't mean others have a problem talking about our problem talking about politics.
Perhaps, some pundits suggest, that maven of manners Emily Post had us pegged when she decreed religion and politics off-limits for proper dinner conversation.
Except, the study notes, Pennsylvanians don't feel bound by the first part of that rule. We rank a healthy 17th for participation in religious and other social groups.
Maybe, as Young suggests, political rhetoric has grown so polarized in recent years that it has turned off Pennsylvanians - by tradition a more moderate lot - from vocally venturing into the fray.
But if that's the case, how does New Jersey, with the loquacious Gov. Christie at the helm, rank 32d?
Nina Susan Eliasoph, a sociology professor at the University of Southern California, floats another theory in her book Avoiding Politics: How Americans Produce Apathy in Everyday Life. Her study challenges the old assumption among political scientists that participation in community groups or volunteer efforts is a gateway to greater political involvement.
After observing parent-driven school fund-raising and other local activism, Eliasoph found the opposite to be true. Parent groups concerned themselves with the small scale, she said. Though many discussed wider-ranging political topics in private, when it came to larger issues of school policy, they demurred.
Members of groups protesting construction of a toxic waste incinerator in their community, for example, seemed to favor a narrow, not-in-my-backyard tone in public forums or media interviews - even though they were perfectly capable, in private, of offering broader policy proposals on waste management, or discussing larger questions about the role of economic class in deciding where to build a waste dump.
"Average citizens are often invited to speak only about their personal experiences on an issue. They are not really given the opportunity in public to discuss an issue at large," Eliasoph said Monday in an interview. "Involvement in organizations like these really gives people the chance to feel like they're doing something, but avoid the conflict of politics."
Got that? Civic groups - such as those Pennsylvanians typically join, according to the study - may actually depress political engagement by focusing on the small issues, to the exclusion of the large.
And that, says Eliasoph, is a depressing thought.
But hey, we're Pennsylvanians. We don't really want to talk about it.
Top Ten Talkers
Where residents talk about politics most frequently:
1. District of Columbia
2. South Carolina
32. New Jersey
SOURCE: Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University
Contact Jeremy Roebuck at 267-564-5218, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @jeremyrroebuck on Twitter.