Tax and Spending, K-12 Education, the Economy and the Pandemic Round out Top Issues

The Utah Foundation has released What's on Utah's Mind: Voter Issues and Concerns in 2020. This report - the first release in the 2020 Utah Priorities Project series - outlines voters' top concerns. The project uses surveys to inform candidates for elected office, elected officials, civic leaders and others on voters' priorities. It draws from a survey taken before the coronavirus pandemic hit Utah and from a second one taken this summer.

 

Health care (costs and accessibility) remains the top issue from the 2016 Utah Priorities Project. Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus is tightly linked to each of the top five issues.

Among the findings of the new report:

* The coronavirus pandemic had a major impact on voters' prioritization of the top issues in 2020.

* The close-knit group of "most important" priorities reflects the entangled challenges thrust upon the state by the emergence of the novel coronavirus.

* Health care (costs and accessibility) maintains its top spot since 2016, likely due in part to Utahns' concern around the coronavirus. State taxes and government spending, K-12 education, jobs and the economy, and public health / COVID-19 pandemic round out the top five issues.

* The top two issues - health care (costs and accessibility) and state taxes and government spending - ranked high not because they were often the most important issues for Utahns in the survey, but because they were consistently important among respondents.

* Public health / COVID-19 pandemic was most often ranked as the top issue, but many respondents also found it relatively unimportant.

* The top five issues can be found in every demographic group's top-10 list.

* Of the demographic groups' top-10 lists, marital status showed the greatest differences, followed by whether respondents had any religious affiliation.

* Over the past 16 years, Utah voters have been trending toward the belief that Utah is on "the wrong track."

* More people feel that their quality of life is worse than it was five years ago compared to people who feel it is better.

Utah Foundation President Peter Reichard says the 2020 Utah Priorities Project is particularly interesting since its two separate survey periods allow a glimpse at the major impact that the coronavirus pandemic had on voters' issue prioritization. "As expected, the pandemic and its economic fallout really shifted Utahns' priorities," Reichard said.

Special thanks to the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and Y2 Analytics for supporting this project. The report is available on the Utah Foundation website at www.utahfoundation.org.

Founded in 1945, Utah Foundation's mission is to produce objective, thorough and well-reasoned research and analysis that promotes the effective use of public resources, a thriving economy, a well-prepared workforce and a high quality of life for Utahns. Utah Foundation seeks to help decision-makers and citizens understand and address complex issues. Utah Foundation also offers constructive guidance to improve governmental policies, programs and structures. Utah Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization.