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2010 Intermountain West Public Opinion Survey

The 2010 Intermountain West Public Opinion Survey documents responses from 2,000 residents of the Intermountain West (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah). Gerstein | Agne Strategic Communications conducted the survey from August 23 – September 1, 2010. A minimum of 250 respondents for each state are included in the results for this survey. Respondents included 1,700 landline interviews and 300 cell phone interviews. Gerstein | Agne Strategic Communications provides strategic planning, communications, project management, and research services to a wide range of non-profit organizations, Fortune 500 companies, and candidates for elected office.

The survey includes an extensive series of questions on such topics as:

  • Alternative energy
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Climate Change
  • Education
  • Federal deficits
  • Health Care
  • Immigration
  • Political party affiliation
  • Same sex marriage
  • State budgets
  • State and national politics

Ruy Teixeira, Visiting Fellow, Brookings Institution and Joint Fellow, Center for American Progress and the Century Foundation, and Karlyn Bowman, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute analyzed the 2010 Intermountain West Public Opinion Survey results and presented their findings at the October 8th conference, "The Political Demography of the Intermountain West," hosted by Brookings Mountain West, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Robert Lang, UNLV Director of Brookings Mountain West noted, "This survey captures the political mood and public opinion of the Intermountain West region in immediate advance of the 2010 elections and offers a glimpse of regional attitudes of critical issues facing this region. The Intermountain West continues to suffer the effects of the current recession and lags, in many ways, behind other regions in economic recovery efforts."

The survey offers important insights to the mood of the region on a range of state and national topics. At the national level, all parties and political figures received negative marks. As a region, some 85 per cent of the respondents engage in outdoor activities and recreation, 77 per cent feel the impact of illegal immigration and 75 per cent support the development of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. Nevada ranks as the, most "pessimistic" of states (77 percent) and Utah the most "optimistic" of states (56 per cent) regarding the direction our country is heading. Across the region 51 per cent believe that climate change is "a real threat with potentially disastrous consequences,” while 44 per cent believe "climate change is just a theory based upon unproven science that is designed to support radical energy policies…”

Top issues for this region, which lags behind the nation in economic recovery, include creating new jobs (69 per cent); improving state schools (62 per cent), and fighting crime and drugs (58 per cent).

On the issue of health care reform, 44 percent strongly oppose and 11 percent totally oppose the recent federal legislation. Some 45 percent feel the Arizona immigration law is "about right," and 52 per cent (33 per cent "strongly agree" and 19 per cent "totally agree") believe that immigrants today "continue to enrich our culture and strengthen our economy." In total, 38 per cent (8 per cent "totally agree" and 30 per cent "strongly agree" responded that there should be "no amnesty, social services, or other benefits given to illegal immigrants."

With the exception of "the role of faith in public life" the majority of respondents support the need for increased federal involvement in a variety of issues including immigration, creating jobs, fighting crime, promoting renewable energies, and providing quality public education. The same is true for the involvement of state government on these issues. A majority (64 per cent) believe that "the second amendment rights of all Americans to keep and bear arms are under direct threat,” with 20 per cent noting that they "totally agree" and forty percent stating that they "strongly agree" with the statement.

On the question of the role of government in our society there is a virtual deadlock. Support for the statement, "Government should promote economic opportunity and provide minimum measures of security such as food, housing, medical care and old age protection," found a 47 per cent response rate (19 percent "totally agree" and 28 per cent strongly agree), while 48 per cent (18 percent "totally agree" and 30 per cent "strongly agree") with the view that "government should strictly limit its role in individuals’ lives…).