Sacred Heart poll outlines issues pressing on state residents

A new poll from Sacred Heart University’s Institute for Public Policy shows that Connecticut residents continue to be concerned about quality of life in the state, cost of living and taxes, transportation and infrastructure and more.

The statewide public policy poll was conducted from mid-July to early August and asked 53 questions of 1,003 state residents. Respondents also commented on the issues that will determine their decisions at Tuesday’s polling places.

“The top issues driving voters’ behavior heading into the race for governor was the high overall tax burden (32.1 percent) or high cost of living (21.9 percent) in Connecticut,” noted Professor Lesley DeNardis, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy at Sacred Heart. “In addition, more than nine-tenths of polled residents reported leadership qualities (94.2 percent), issues the candidate will focus on (93.6 percent), proposed goals for improving the state (93.3 percent) and previous success in accomplishing goals (91.9 percent) were important factors in considering the eventual candidates for governor. Comparatively, the candidate’s prior government experience was important to just 67.3% percent of residents.”

Only slightly more than one-third of CT residents (35.4 percent) report that it is either very easy or somewhat easy to maintain a standard of living out of their household income today, while 61.7 percent believe it is difficult. Further, top reasons for difficulty to maintain standard of living were higher federal or state taxes and/or increases in the cost of utilities or general goods.

When asked to rate their level of concern for several different challenges the State of Connecticut is facing today, residents reported the greatest concern as the State’s “high overall cost of living” (93.6 percent) and “high overall tax burden” (90.9 percent). However, residents reported lower, but still significant, levels of concern for challenges such as “education inequality” (73.4 percent) and “people moving out of Connecticut” (67.3%).

Residents were also concerned about Connecticut’s ability to draw visitors to the state. Almost two-thirds of Connecticut residents do not believe Connecticut’s cities are a draw for tourists, while 87.4 percent of residents reported it is “important” for Connecticut to make cities more attractive and desirable places to visit. Over two-thirds of residents outside of Hartford, Fairfield and New Haven do not believe Connecticut’s cities are a draw for tourists (69.5 percent).

A vast majority of Connecticut residents support the state working towards “improving the quality of roads and highways” (92 percent). In addition, while 76.2 percent of residents support expanding public transportation, almost three-quarters disagree that raising motor vehicle fees will encourage more residents to use public transportation to get to work or school (72.1 percent).

Finally, a vast majority of Connecticut residents agreed that corporations, such as General Electric, Aetna and Alexion, leaving the state has had a negative impact on Connecticut’s economy (89.4 percent). In addition, only 29.7 percent think that Connecticut is appealing for corporate relocation compared to 63.4 percent who do not believe Connecticut is an appealing state for corporations.

Connecticut residents reported that the state’s connection to nearby major cities, such as Boston or New York City, and connection to prestigious universities in the state are the top draws for businesses. In addition, 80.3 percent of residents agreed that reducing corporate taxes and improvement of the overall business climate of the state would help Connecticut become a more appealing state for residents and businesses. A majority of residents in Connecticut reported that reducing the corporate tax rate (53.9 percent) and instituting programs and policies that encourage entrepreneurship and ease the path for people starting new businesses (50 percent) were the top ways the state should become more business friendly.

GreatBlue Research Inc., conducted the Connecticut-specific polling on behalf of the SHU Institute for Public Policy, interviewing 1,003 residents statewide between July 16 and August 8. Statistically, a sample of 1,000 telephone or digital interviews represents a margin for error of +/-3.02 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

The next three polls will cover issues related to the Governor’s race following Tuesday’s primary.

Sacred Heart’s Institute for Public Policy, which was established in 2017 in the College of Arts and Sciences, is aligned with the University’s new master of public administration program, which will launch this fall. In addition to hosting state-wide polls, the institute conducts public policy research, hosts public forums and workshops and serves as a public-policy learning incubator for students.

A PDF file of complete polling results is available at www.sacredheart.edu/pollresults. The next SHU Public Policy Polling Institute poll will take place at the end of this month.

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