Idahoans, over 90 percent satisfied with the quality of their lives and optimistic about their future, want state government to become even more conservative in the years to come.
But a new statewide poll conducted for the Idaho Centennial Commission also shows the majority apparently want a government that stays out of religious and spiritual issues while being pro-active on others like education.While 52 percent want a more conservative state government, 70 percent favor public policymakers who are pro-active, strong and focused on many issues.
People, generally the younger ones living in the areas of the state that are getting the most in-migration, are willing to pay higher taxes for more and higher quality public services. But across-the-board they opt for the less expensive alternatives in handling major issues like health care and crime.
They want a steady, stable lifestyle, sacrificing rapid economic growth for slow expansion even if it means fewer but higher-paying jobs, and especially if it will protect the environment of serious threat.
"I think we now have a whole new definition of what conservative is," said Gary Lyman, who directed the survey. "Conservative in this state does not mean we are opposed to change . . . . We may be fiscally conservative, but we're progressive in broader policy areas like funding education better."
The telephone poll, conducted on a statistically random sample of 541 people between May 3 through May 18, is accurate within four percentage points. It was done by the Survey Research Center at Boise State University.
It is intended to guide policymakers on where Idahoans would like to see their state head as it enters its second century, John Franden of the Second Century Project said, and Lyman suggested that politicians should give serious thought to the survey's suggested revision of the definition of conservative.
Other apparent contradictory positions in the survey, he said, probably reflect the fact that there simply has not been a good public discussion of values in the state.
One of the most surprising findings of the poll, Lyman said, was that a third of the respondents said there was no need to improve social equity and racial tolerance in a state where an earlier study for the Human Rights Commission found a significant level of covert as well as overt racial and religious intolerance.
Fortunately, Lyman said, the vast majority wanting a society exhibiting greater tolerance was much more intense in its desire for improvement than those feeling no need to change the status quo.