Press Release

IssuesPA/Pew Poll: Confidence In PA State Government At Lowest Point in Two Years

  • October 14, 2005

About

The latest IssuesPA/Pew poll shows that confidence in state government is at its lowest point since the IssuesPA/Pew poll first asked the question in September 2003. Nearly half (49 percent) rate the job state government is doing dealing with important issues as ‘only fair' – while another 28 percent give state government a poor rating. Only 20 percent give the state a positive rating of ‘excellent' or ‘good.'

Although respondents were not polled directly for their views on the pay raise, a full 20 percent of those who rate state government's performance as ‘poor' cite concerns about government and politics as the top problem facing the state.

Overall Job of State Government In Handling Important Issues

Percent

9/05

5/05

12/04

8/04

4/04

9/03

Excellent/Good

20

24

23

23

28

28

Only fair

49

51

52

54

49

47

Poor

28

23

22

20

20

20

Confidence in the State Legislature Down Sharply

Over the past two years, Pennsylvanians' confidence ratings for the state legislature as a whole had not varied by more than a few percentage points – until now. The proportion who say they have ‘a lot' or ‘some' confidence in the legislature to deal with important issues has declined by double digits – from 63 percent in May 2005 to 52 percent in the latest poll. Today, more than 4 in 10 (44 percent) statewide say that they have ‘not too much ‘ or ‘no confidence' in the state legislature. In contrast, confidence in Governor Ed Rendell remains statistically unchanged since May 2005; his continuing popularity in Southeastern PA helps keep his overall confidence ratings positive.

Though Pennsylvanians generally feel more positively about their own elected representatives than they do about government in general, even their confidence in their own elected officials has declined. About two-thirds (65 percent) have ‘a lot' or ‘some' confidence in their own state senator or representative, while about a third (32 percent) have ‘not much' or ‘no confidence' – down from a 70 percent confident/23 percent not confident rating in May 2005.

Jobs, Taxes, Gas Prices, Government and Politics Ranks as Top Issues Facing the State

Pennsylvanians are divided in their opinions on the direction of their state – 48 percent satisfied, 45 percent dissatisfied. Those who are displeased with the state of their state tend to focus on different problems than those who are generally satisfied. For example, those who are dissatisfied are much more likely to see government and politics as the number one problem. Taxes are another issue that resonates more with the dissatisfied.

Most Important Problem Facing P.A. Today

Percent

Total

Among those
SatisfiedDissatisfied
with direction of the state

Jobs

21

19

23

Taxes

19

13

26

Gas Prices

11

11

11

Government/Politics

11

3

19

 

“This convergence of economic and political discontent generally spells trouble for incumbent politicians up for re-election,” explains Larry Hugick, Chairman of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. “These are the kinds of issues that fueled Ross Perot's anti-establishment campaigns for President in 1992 and 1996. The question remains as to how long the discontent will last.”

About the IssuesPA/Pew Poll and Survey Methodology

The IssuesPA/Pew Poll is a core component of the Pennsylvania Economy League's IssuesPA initiative. Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) conducted the poll for IssuesPA. Funding for the IssuesPA/Pew Poll was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,653 Pennsylvania adults, 18 and older, conducted September 8-18, 2005. Results are weighted so that the sample demographics match Pennsylvania parameters for gender, age, education, race, and region. The overall margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for results based on total adults. Results based on smaller subgroups are subject to larger margins of sampling error. In addition to sampling error, the practical difficulties of conducting surveys can also introduce error or bias to poll results.

About IssuesPA

IssuesPA is a nonpartisan statewide awareness project focused exclusively on raising the issues most critical to Pennsylvania's economic future. The Pennsylvania Economy League initially launched IssuesPA to promote issue awareness around the 2002 gubernatorial election. Post-election, the project has been transformed into the leading resource on state-level issues and policies in Pennsylvania, coupled with a dynamic, multi-media outreach strategy. IssuesPA is funded in part by The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Heinz Endowments and the members of the Pennsylvania Economy League.

About The Pennsylvania Economy League

The Pennsylvania Economy League is an independent, nonprofit public policy research organization. PEL is a force for positive change -- the state's leading regionally based, statewide public policy organization. Working with Pennsylvania's public and private sectors, PEL provides independent research and insight on emerging issues to stimulate public and private action to make Pennsylvania a better place to live, work, and do business. PEL's goal is to create a knowledgeable corporate and civic audience that will ensure the Commonwealth's economic competitiveness.

Media Contact

Cindy Jobbins