Issues - not political races - will be what gets the voter out this November in Utah County, says pollster Dan Jones.
"There is an unusually low interest in this year's election. The Timp Mental Health problems have had a great impact on the people in Utah County. But the No. 1 issue for Utah County residents is clean air," Jones said, at a meeting of the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce.Jones believes the entire state is in a lull now and that what is really needed is to have a state primary election.
"Utah needs a March or April primary election to get people excited about the elections."
While Utah County is one of the most conservative areas in the nation and has had as much as 85 percent voter turnout, Jones sees a decline in interest over this year's campaign on every level.
"It will be the tax initiatives that will bring the voters out," he said.
Statistically, the governor's race shows Ted Wilson at 49 percent, Gov. Norm Bangerter at 30 percent and Merrill Cook at 11 percent, he said, stating that Cook draws more away from Ban-gerter's campaign then Wilson's.
"Cook will tell you that Ban-gerter should get out of the race," Jones said. As far as Wilson goes, "people see Wilson as a nice man, and he is."
Jones showed his dismay for the amount of apathy in Utah County and throughout the state asking, "What is wrong with you Utahns?"
He encouraged those in attendance to get involved and to study the candidates and the issues, and to write to their congressmen when they see something is wrong.
"I have been polling since 1959 and there has been no more important a year in politics than 1988," Jones said. "In November you can express your feelings, you can vote."
Apathy isn't the only concern Jones has about the state of Utah, but also non-residents' perceptions of Utah.
"Singer-Swapp and those kinds of incidents can really hurt the state," he said. However, according to a current poll, non-residents do have some good things to say.
In a poll taken last year, 2,500 out-of-staters were asked what they think of when they think of Utah, he said. The top three answers were: beauty and the outdoors; interesting buildings; and friendliness and cleanliness.
Other comments involved Mormons, skiing and, from some states, comments about the Utah lifestyle being similar to that of the Amish.
Some of the negatives from people who have visited or moved to Utah recently included the fear of children being left out because they weren't members of the predominant faith. Some local people are friendly at first, but if new residents don't warm up to the predominant religion the new arrivals are soon ignored, the complaints indicate.
"Some of that is true," Jones said. "But some of it is misunderstanding. Many people see us as a closed society."
After living in the state one to two years, people felt more freedom of religion. Schools are better than they thought they would be, and the state is more cultural than anticipated.
Utah County has a great potential said Jones. "Those in the business see the Provo/Orem area as the next Silicon Valley."