Utah Priorities Project | What Matters Most to Utahns?

Written by: Shawn Teigen

As Americans, what is our top policy priority? A Pew Research Center survey found that Americans think that President Biden and Congress should focus on “strengthening the economy” in 2024.

But what about Utahns? During each gubernatorial election year since 2004, Utah Foundation has sought to understand what matters most to voters through its Utah Priorities Project.

For the 2024 Utah Priorities Project, housing affordability topped the list of concerns. Earning enough to pay for non-housing needs – the other side of the inflation coin – landed in the third spot.

These results look quite different than they do for Americans-at-large via the Pew survey. Or do they? One could argue that Utah’s inflationary concerns do align with American’s economy concerns.

While the U.S. economy is very strong when considering unemployment rates and economic growth, consumer sentiment is still low. And while inflation has come back down from record highs, prices remain high. Consumer sentiment and concern about the economy since the pandemic is likely linked to inflation or at least to high-inflation trauma. And what was a key driver of inflation? Housing costs.

On a different note, and perhaps surprisingly, politicians listening to voters, government overreach, and partisan politics took the second, fourth, and fifth spots. These are all related to a general dissatisfaction with government and politics.

In 2020 – the last survey year for the Priorities Project – politicians listening to voters and housing affordability also occupied the top spots. That was before the pandemic shutdown. Those two issues were pushed down the list by the top five pandemic-related issues when voters were asked about their priorities once again just after the shutdown.

Unless Utah gets a handle on its housing affordability issues and Utah politicians start “listening to voters,” we might just see those two issues again finding their way to the top of the next Utah Priorities Project. Though major emergent issues, such as a pandemic, can easily overwhelm other concerns.

Regarding 2024, keep an eye out for our forthcoming report releases which will include a deeper analysis of the Priorities Project top concerns and many follow-up and ancillary questions about what matters most to Utahns.

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