In an effort to help Utah voters better understand the differences and similarities of the gubernatorial candidates, Utah Foundation has published Part II of the Utah Priorities Project. In this report, voters can see what topics candidates are most concerned about, how they align with voters across the state, and how they align with their own personal views. This will ultimately help voters evaluate who is the best candidate to represent their interests in state governance.
Candidates Vaughn Cook, Gary Herbert, Jonathan Johnson and Mike Weinholtz answer questions from Utah Public Radio’s Kerry Bringhurst at the Utah Priorities Project luncheon March 22nd
The report evaluates where seven of the eleven candidates stand in terms of the quality of life and the direction of the state, their level of concern for 21 priorities Utah voters care about, and how they fall along an ideological scale.
Findings of the candidate survey include:
Five of the seven participating candidates (all non-Democrat candidates) gave a ranking of 5 – very concerned – to public lands and state taxes and government spending.
Unlike voters who typically believe that Utah is “heading in the right direction,” all but one of the candidates challenging Utah’s Governor believe that Utah is “on the wrong track.”
Both Democratic candidates shared the same ideological score as the median Democratic Utah voter. The two Republican candidates who participated in the ideological section of the survey were more conservative than the median Utah Republican voter.
While rankings for priorities differed greatly between Democratic and Republican voters, average ratings were almost the same for a handful of topics (state taxes and government spending, jobs and the economy, public lands, and energy issues).The survey also shows where most of the candidates land on an ideological spectrum from liberal to conservative using methodology developed by the Pew Research Centers. One candidate, Governor Gary Herbert, chose not to participate in that section of the survey.
Utah Foundation has conducted the Utah Priorities Project in each year with an election for governor since 2004. The 2016 survey drew attention because of the change in the relative position of several issues. Healthcare and air quality overtook jobs and the economy and K-12 education as the top issues in this year’s voter survey. Four of the candidates responded to the voter survey at a luncheon on March 22nd. Video of theluncheon debatecan be viewed on the Utah Foundation website at http://www.utahfoundation.org/priorities-project-2016/.
The Utah Priorities Project candidate survey and the voter survey are available on the Utah Foundation website,http://www.utahfoundation.org/research-reports/ along with research reports on topics as varied as Utah’s tax burden, education spending, water development and many others.
The Utah Priorities Project Top Ten Issues
The Utah Priorities Project voter survey identified the top ten issues on the minds of voters in 2016. Read more here.