Most people in Illinois still think the state is moving in the wrong direction, but compared with last year, twice as many think things are going the right way, according to a poll conducted by the University of Illinois Springfield Survey Research Office.
And freshman Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who was able to work with a Democratic legislature to pass several initiatives last spring that he had campaigned for in 2018, got positive job approval ratings from 59 percent of respondents in the survey.
Of all respondents, 28 percent thought the state was moving in the right direction, with 56 percent saying it is on the wrong track and 16 percent responding that they couldn’t say. In a survey in 2018, only 14 percent thought the state was moving in the right direction.
And asked how Pritzker is handling the job as governor, 16 percent strongly approved and 43 percent somewhat approved. Strongly disapproving were 19 percent, and somewhat disapproving were 22 percent.
“We saw roughly a 100 percent increase in folks saying things are in the right direction,” said A.J. Simmons, director of the survey research office. “I mean 28 percent is not great, but it’s better than 14 percent.”
He said that with the governor getting agenda items passed by lawmakers, “we’re seeing perhaps more optimism than what’s been here previously” about issues at the state level.
The Illinois Issues Survey was fielded Sept. 13-23 among a sample of 1,012 registered voters. The sample for the online poll was selected to represent the whole state by a company called Qualtrics, and full survey results have a “credibility interval,” similar to a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
The approval ratings for the governor differed with factors including party affiliation, gender, race and geographic location. Results show, for example, that 79 percent of Democrats and those leaning to the Democratic side approved of the governor’s performance, while that number was 32 percent for Republicans and those leaning Republican. Among independents, 49 percent approved and 51 percent disapproved.
Approval numbers for the governor were 50 percent among whites, 83 percent among African-Americans, 71 percent among Hispanics and 69 percent among others, the survey showed. The credibility intervals of subgroups in the survey are higher than the 3.5 percentage points for results taken from all respondents.
Pritzker’s job performance also got positive reviews from 63 percent of women versus 55 percent of men; and regionally, from 69 percent of people in Cook County, 56 percent from those in the collar counties just outside Cook County in northeast Illinois, and 51 percent downstate — including part of northern Illinois away from Chicago, including Rockford.
On the question concerning direction of the state, one split was by gender: among men, 32 percent said the state is going in the right direction and 54 percent said it is going on the wrong track, with 13 percent saying they could not say; and among women, 24 percent chose “right direction” and 58 percent chose “wrong track,” and 18 percent chose “can’t say.”
Asked to describe the economy, 4 percent said excellent, 19 percent good, 39 percent fair and 38 percent poor. Last year, only 15 percent thought the economy was excellent or good.
And asked if they expect to be better or worse off in a year, 29 percent said better, 30 percent said worse, and 41 percent said the same as today.
On the topic of out-migration, 61 percent of respondents said they have considered moving out of Illinois in the past year. But of those 61 percent, only 16 percent looked for jobs in a new state and just 5 percent applied for such jobs; and 26 percent looked at out-of state housing but just 2 percent applied for such housing.
Reasons of those considering out-of-state moves included lower state taxes, 27 percent; state government and policies, 17 percent; better weather, 15 percent; lower crime, 13 percent; job opportunities, 12 percent; better schools, 6 percent; and family or personal reasons, 8 percent.
In 2018, 53 percent of respondents to a survey that year said they considered moving out of state in the previous 12 months. Simmons said that while the 61 percent in this year’s survey is higher, actions leading to actual moves out of state are “pretty low.’
“I think a wider study would need to be done to talk to folks that have left and maybe even folks that have moved into the state as well to … really unpack the kind of migration that has been going on,” Simmons said.
The top five destinations cited by respondents who said they considered moving are Florida at 10 percent; Indiana, 8 percent; Texas, 8 percent; Tennessee, 6 percent; and California, 6 percent. Each respondent who said they considered moving could name up to three states as destinations.
The survey project is co-sponsored by the Center for State Policy and Leadership, NPR Illinois and the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies at UIS.
Contact Bernard Schoenburg: email@example.com, 788-1540, twitter.com/bschoenburg.