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Idaho policy survey: growth too fast, new & old Idahoans alike, state on the right track (but the gap is narrowing), more

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Each year, Boise State’s School of Public Service conducts a public opinion survey across the state, and releases it near the beginning of the legislative session. This year, many of the trends from recent years continue to increase in prominence.

The survey contacted 1,000 adults across 42 of the state’s 44 counties late last year, and has a margin of error of 3%. Boise State hired Republican pollster GS Strategy Group of Boise to produce the survey, as it has in past years.

Growth is too fast, but…

Not surprisingly, the pace of growth is on Idahoans’ minds.

Seventy-one percent of Idahoans said they think Idaho is growing too fast. That’s actually a decline from last year, when 78% of Idahoans said the growth rate was too hot. The sentiment cuts across many different lines.

“Republicans (79%), Democrats (65%), and Independents (66%) all believe that
Idaho is growing too fast,” the survey writers noted. “Additionally, long-term Idaho
residents – those who have lived in the state for 10 years or more – are far more likely to say the state is growing too fast (75%) than those who moved to the state more recently (58%).”

But, the concern about growth doesn’t extend to attracting “high paying jobs” to Idaho.

“Idaho should continue to recruit companies with high paying jobs to the state even if it means the population continues to grow” got the thumbs up from 59.9% of those surveyed, compared with 28.2% who said “Idaho is growing too fast and should stop recruiting businesses to the state even if that limits employment opportunities.” Another 11.8% said they didn’t know or declined to answer the question.

On the right track, but sentiment is changing

While a plurality of Idahoans think the state is on the right track – that figure has declined in each of the last four years, while the number of folks who think things are going the wrong way continues to increase. The numbers are now as close as they’ve ever been in the seven-year history of the survey.

New Idahoans, existing Idahoans: mostly the same

The survey again looked at newer Idahoans in comparison with folks who’ve lived here longer. In 2019, the survey noted a partisan breakdown for newcomers that was similar to those who’ve lived here longer.

For Idahoans who’ve lived here longer than ten years, 49% identify as conservative, while 53% of folks who have lived here less than ten years. That’s right outside the margin of error for the survey, which is 3%.

When it comes to party affiliation, as opposed to ideology, the results go slightly the opposite way.

Of newer Idahoans, 42% say they’re independent, while 39% of people who have lived here longer put themselves in that camp. For Republicans, 36% of newcomers identify with the GOP, while 38% of longer-term Idahoans do. For Democrats, 16% of newer arrivals fall in this camp, while 13% of longer-term residents do.

Bottom line: Newer residents are slightly more likely to say they’re conservative — and slightly more likely to say they’re a Democrat.

The two groups of Idahoans are similar in other ways, too.

“We find few significant differences demographically between the recent arrivals and those who have lived here for a longer period of time,” the survey’s writers noted. “Approximately half of both groups are currently employed, while roughly one-quarter of each group are retired. While it is still possible that there are larger shares of retirees moving to certain parts of Idaho, or from certain states, these results suggest that when we look at the state as a whole, the recent arrivals have very similar employment profiles to those who have lived here for a longer period of time.”

More notes

  • The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Idaho two years later. While most Idahoans say their financial situation is roughly the same, 26% said it has worsened – and 25% said they had trouble paying bills due to the pandemic.
  • “If a friend or family asked for your opinion, would you tell them to get the COVID vaccine or not get the COVID vaccine?” 51.4% said they’d advise them to get it. 26% said they would tell them not to, and 22.6% said they didn’t know or declined to answer.
  • Housing affordability remains a big concern. 71.7% said they’d be somewhat or very unlikely to be able to purchase or rent a home similar to the one they have now for the same amount if they had to move out.
  • Right now, impact fees charged to developers can only be spent on widening roads and intersections. But those surveyed overwhelmingly (69.6%) said the fees should go to curbs, gutters, sidewalks and bike lanes, too.
  • A plurality (46%) of Idahoans said property taxes are too high, while 40.7% said they are about right.
  • The state has a fairly large budget surplus – which stood at $1.5 billion when the survey was taken, and has risen to $1.9 billion. Here’s how Idahoans think the extra cash should be spent:

Dive deeper

The full survey can be found here. The topline data is here, and you can see the School of Public Service’s summary below.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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