A majority of Idahoans think their state is heading in the right direction, but they believe education is the most important issue facing the state and believe resoundingly that education, the economy and jobs should be the Legislature’s top priorities in the Statehouse.
These are among the key results from Boise State’s School of Public Service Public Policy Survey, conducted under the leadership of Dean Corey Cook. The school intends this poll to resume the statewide service that the Boise State Public Policy Survey provided for two decades, from 1990 to 2011.
“One of our goals at the School of Public Service is to offer tools for decision-makers through research, surveys and partnerships,” Cook said. “We hope this annual survey will become a part of how state and local leaders evaluate the complicated issues they face.”
Among the key findings this year:
- 57 percent of Idahoans think the state generally is on the right track.
- 28.2 percent of Idahoans believe education is the most important issue facing the state, followed by the economy (9.8 percent), jobs/unemployment (6.8 percent), health care (4.4 percent) and immigration (3.4 percent).
- 57.5 percent of Idahoans listed education as either their first or second priority for this year’s Legislature, and 55.4 percent listed either the economy or jobs/unemployment as one of their top two priorities.
- 45.2 percent of respondents believe the state budget should stay about the same, compared with 35.4 percent who think it should be increased and 9.4 percent who say it should be decreased.
- 66.9 percent said the current tax rate is about right, compared with 21.3 percent who believe it is too high and 9.5 percent who believe it is too low.
The poll was conducted Jan. 11-15 and surveyed 1,000 adults currently living in the state of Idaho. It was directed by Department of Public Policy and Administration Chair Gregory C. Hill and associate professor of political science Justin S. Vaughn. It was administered on behalf of the School by GS Strategy Group, a Boise-based polling firm.
The sample included 39.2 percent self-identified Republicans, 36.5 percent independents, and 17.4 percent Democrats. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent. It is important to note this was conducted among all adults, not likely voters or registered voters. About 40 percent of the respondents were contacted via their cell phone number.
Cook and the poll’s faculty directors presented the findings to legislative leaders at the end of last week and experts were available to members of the media at the Statehouse Monday to delve into questions on education, the economy, the environment and other topics, including immigration and transportation funding.
The relatively large sample size of 1,000 adults can be broken into regions around the state based on census data, giving lawmakers and local leaders from around Idaho a chance to see how their individual areas responded. The responses also can be broken down by age, gender and party affiliation.
“We went with the large survey because we wanted to make sure we had really good information about the population subgroups,” Cook said.
The full survey is available at d25vtythmttl3o.cloudfront.net/uploads/sites/164/files/2016/02/Poll-Presentation-for-Release.pdf.
Because of changes in methodology and sample sizes, the new survey can’t be used in direct comparison with the university’s previous Public Policy Surveys, but similar questions were asked in the past about the key priorities and the direction of the state. Each of those polls can be found at Boise State’s Albertsons Library online archive here: http://scholarworks.boisestate.edu/ppc_pps/