The 2010 Illinois Rural Life Poll Presentation to the 2011 Downstate Summit Chris Merrett, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, Western Illinois University Financial Support Provided by Rural Partners
From Capital Fax – September 12, 2011 “ The President and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Doug Whitley was quoted saying something interesting the other day… • Whitley said one of the problems facing Illinois is that ‘Cook County people are out of touch with the pain of the people of downstate Illinois.’” Freeport (IL) Journal Standard, September 10. Online: http://www.journalstandard.com/news/business/x1413024114/Whitley-touts-importance-of-limiting-government-s-scope.
The question posed by Capital Fax… • “Do you agree with Whitley? Take the poll and then tell us why or why not. Also, please tell us which Illinois region you call home. Thanks.” • Results of 647 respondents: • 73.5% agreed (476) • 26.5% disagreed (171)
Purpose Outline • Implications of Capital Fax survey… • Polarization is serious. • Report on the 2010 Illinois Rural Life Poll. • Explore extent to which polarization exists. • Identify areas of common ground between rural and urban Illinois. • Illinois Rural Life Poll (IRLP). • Structure and Rationale. • IRLP Survey Results. • Conclusions. • Conclusions and Comments.
1(a). IRLP Structure and Rationale • Trend Data Shows: • Long term economic and demographic stagnation / decline. • Where to find solutions to this socioeconomic malaise? • Ask residents of rural communities. • Illinois Rural Life Poll conducted by the IIRA. • Financial support from Rural Partners. • Metadata • Survey during fall 2010. • Surveys sent to 8,000 residents across Illinois. • Responses received from 1,087 individuals. • Response rate of 13.6 percent. • 54.8% Non-metro and 45.2% metro. • Age bias reflected in survey respondents.
1(a). IRLP Structure and Rationale • Survey Structure • Part I • Quality of life measures. • Adequacy of existing services and infrastructure. • Part II • Looking to the future. • Importance of specific services (e.g. health), amenities (e.g. recreation), and infrastructure (e.g. roads and IT) to improving rural communities. • Part III • Background information about respondents. • Demographics, location, educational attainment, etc.
1(b). Survey Results – Some Written Comments • 25 pages of written comments • Attract business to our area - We need jobs! • Better politics • Bring in more jobs, better retail stores • Cellulosic ethanol not corn based • Clean coal technology very important for this area • Ethanol is over rated • Expansion of gas stations to carry E85 • Get the government out of our lives • High speed internet to rural residents • Improve education funding • Improvement of health care insurance availability • Jobs related to energy production (Green Energy) • Local grocery store & local transportation • Chicago gets all the money in Illinois. Change that. • Excellent survey • This was goofy. • Modernize local government • None of Your Damn Business!!! • Thanks for asking! Somebody cares! • The poor are poorer - the rich are richer - nothing will change that - and asking questions is just busy work to occupy your time until payday. • We don't have a M.D. in our county. We have to drive at least 35 miles to large stores. We need more businesses in our county. • What R yall doin to help us?
1(c). Conclusions • See importance of issues across geographies. • Jobs, healthcare and education highly ranked regardless of metro or non-metro location. • See areas of difference between rural and urban regions. Rural respondents were less optimistic and had greater concerns for the following issues: • Current life situation • Optimism for the future • Internet access • Local government • Transit resources • School funding • Youth leaving • Skilled jobs
2. Conclusions and Questions • Return to initial commentary from Capital Fax: • Reaffirm that Rural versus Urban differences exist, persist, and still matter. • But also see that extensive common ground exists between rural and urban residents in Illinois. • How can we build bridges with urban / upstate stakeholders as we seek solutions to unique downstate challenges? • Look forward to today’s discussions about downstate issues. • The IRLP hopefully provides one dataset to help us better understand those issues. • Plans to conduct IRLP every two years. • Welcome questions or comments about this presentation.
Contact Information • Christopher D. Merrett, PhD, Director Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs Western Illinois University Macomb, IL 61455 309-298-2281 http://www.iira.org email@example.com