Coloradans’ views on the economy, energy development and other subjects depends in part on where they live, according to the results of a statewide survey conducted at Colorado Mesa University.
People from the Denver metropolitan region were more upbeat than those on the Western Slope in their assessments of economic, labor and business conditions. West Slope residents were more likely to prioritize fossil fuels development over renewable energy sources and consider tourism more important to the wellbeing of their communities.
The CMU Social Research Center conducted the Centennial State Survey, interviewing 532 adults in March about a variety of issues. CMU students and faculty as well as community leaders were involved in formulating questions for the survey. The Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania assisted in the effort.
“This has been an exceedingly valuable effort for the university in a number of ways, and I believe the information the survey provides will be equally valuable to the state’s policymakers as well as residents who are interested in what their neighbors think,” said Justin Gollob, an associate professor of political science who oversees the Social Research Center at CMU.
CMU President Tim Foster said the surveys the center conducts offer an important learning opportunity for students. “This gives them some exposure to practical applications of the knowledge they are acquiring in the classroom, especially in the political science courses.”
Statewide, 37 percent of survey respondents rated their local economies as excellent or very good, while 27 percent assessed conditions as fair or poor. While 56 percent said they expect their economies to remain the same over the coming year, 30 percent said they expect improvement and 12 percent said they anticipate worsening conditions.
While 51 percent of those living in the Denver area rated the economy as excellent or very good, that proportion fell to 20 percent in Western Colorado. While 57 percent of those in the Denver area strongly agreed or agreed they were pleased with the job opportunities available to them, the share fell to 35 percent on the West Slope.
Meanwhile, 69 percent of those in the Denver area said they strongly agreed or agreed their communities offered a good place to start a business. That compared to 35 percent of those in Western Colorado.
Statewide, Coloradans were split between balancing fossil fuel and renewable energy sources at 42 percent and prioritizing renewable energy at 41 percent.
There were regional differences of opinion, though, with 20 percent of those in Western Colorado believing fossil fuels should be a priority and 10 percent of those in the Denver area believing the same way.
While 70 percent of Coloradans responding to the survey said they considered tourism very important or important to their communities, 64 percent of those in Western Colorado said tourism was very important and 18 percent of those in the Denver area expressed the same viewpoint.
Meanwhile, 35 percent of those on the Western Slope cited economic contributions as the main benefit of outdoor recreation and 8 percent of those in the Denver area did so.
Statewide, Coloradans identified affordable housing as the most pressing problem in their communities with a total of 63 percent either strongly disagreeing or disagreeing there was adequate access to affordable housing. While 15 percent of those in the Denver area said there was adequate access to affordable housing, 33 percent of those in Western Colorado did so.
While 29 percent of Coloradans reported they were very or somewhat satisfied with the federal government, the share rose to 49 percent for state government and 56 percent for county and local governments.
At 87 percent, most Coloradans said they were very or somewhat satisfied with their communities as places to live with 88 percent of those in the Denver area very or somewhat satisfied and 85 percent of those on the Western Slope reporting the same sentiments.