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June 27, 2018

Critical Insights' latest tracking poll reveals views on economy, other Maine issues

Courtesy / Critical Insights
Courtesy / Critical Insights

About Critical Insights

Critical Insights is dedicated to providing creative qualitative and quantitative research services to the public sector and to private business. Along with Digital Research and dpa, Critical Insights is one of the three research brands operating under the Digital Research Group umbrella.

The semi-annual tracking poll, launched in 1996, is conducted as a public service to Maine residents, businesses and governmental decision-makers. As an omnibus survey, Critical Insights on Maine offers in-state organizations a convenient way to pose their own proprietary questions to Mainers, twice each year.

For more information on Critical Insights and its research services, call 207-772-4011 or email Info@Criticalinsights.com.

The opioid crisis and health care costs are among Mainers' top concerns, according to the spring 2018 Critical Insights on Maine tracking poll.

The poll, released Tuesday, shows that optimism about the future has leveled off but concern over perennial issues facing the state has declined.

The survey, now in its 22nd year, is conducted semi-annually, derives its insights from more than 600 registered voters in Maine who shared their views on a number of issues affecting them. Critical Insights is based in Portland.

"As the state and nation prepare for a contentious midterm election, the public is torn between economic confidence from full employment and concern over the general direction of the country," Robert Domine, president of Critical Insights, said in a news release. "Challenges surrounding ranked-choice voting and the partisan divide warrant special attention and may have an unpredictable impact on voting in the fall."

State of the state and nation

Overall, concern about many of the issues facing Maine and the nation have held steady, with one notable exception, according to the news release: Voters in Maine are most likely to volunteer the opioid crisis (16%) and unemployment (15%) as the most pressing issues now facing the state. Concern about the opioid crisis has spiked since last fall (when just 7% listed it as a concern).

Health care emerged as a concern for 11% of the respondents, driven by significant increases in health insurance premiums.

Critical Insights reported that voters remain split in their perceptions of the state's overall direction: 30% stated it is heading in the right direction, while 34% believe it is on the wrong track.

A significantly smaller percentage of respondents believe the country is heading in the right direction: Only 22% of respondents believe the nation as a whole is on the right track, a decline from a year ago when 28% responded favorably to the nation's direction.

Other concerns

Critical Insights reported these other findings from its spring survey:

  • Overall concern about the economy has declined (from 12% to 8%), as Maine and the nation reach functional full employment and no great dangers are perceived on the horizon.
  • Seven out of 10 voters in Maine believe the economy will be about the same (46%) or better (24%) in the next 12 months. However, Mainers are now less likely than at any point last year to believe the economy will be better in the next twelve months.
  • Looking ahead to the next six months, health care, job loss, the cost of living, taxes, and the condition of the economy more generally remain the most common financial concerns for Mainers: roughly one out of 10 are worried about one or more of these issues.
  • Concern about health care has fallen from the high reached last fall, when the nation's attention was focused on a potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Job loss is also a less common concern this spring, perhaps not surprising given the state's nearly full employment.

The spring 2018 tracking poll was conducted in April and May and included 619 completed surveys with registered voters. There is a plus-or-minus 4% sampling error at the 95% confidence level.

Complete results can be found online here by clicking on "Spring 2018 Poll" at the top of the home page.

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