DENVER — In the last two years, COVID-19 has dropped from a top concern for Colorado voters to low on the list. Now at the top of that list ahead of the November election are issues like affordable housing and civil rights issues.
The ACLU of Colorado commissioned a poll of 1,223 likely voters in Colorado last month through the African American Research Collaborative (AARC). Ninety-five percent of the poll's respondents were already registered voters in the state.
The poll found 80% of Coloradans consider housing affordability as either a major issue or a crisis. Also among top concerns were the economy and homelessness.
“There is a flavor of concern of the inflation and economy that is directly tied to civil rights,” said Isaiah Bailey, a research fellow with the AARC. He said it was encouraging that voters are understanding the connection of those ideas.
Also, reflected in the poll was the agency voters feel they have in the democratic process when it comes to ballot issues. On a scale from 1 to 10 — 10 meaning the issue is extremely persuasive in encouraging you to vote — the average answer was 7.48 for ballot issues.
“I think the support the state has for the generic idea of a ballot initiative as a form of direct democracy is striking,” said Henry Fernandez, the CEO of AARC.
To use a specific example, the poll asked if voters would be in support of ballot initiative #108, which would generate $270 million annually by diverting 0.1% of the taxable income from the General Fund to the State Affordable Housing Fund, according to a nonpartisan fiscal analysis. Across party lines, 77% of respondents said they would vote in favor of that initiative.
Another top concern for Colorado voters, one that is directly tied to inflation and the economy, was homelessness. Homelessness was also a higher concern for Black and Latino voters than it was for white voters, the poll found.
As you can see in the table above, abortion rights were not as much of a concern for Colorado voters when compared to other issues. This could be due to the fact that abortion access is codified in Colorado. However, if anti-abortion politicians were to take control of the Colorado legislature, that law could be repealed.
Climate change was also low on the list; only 11% of Coloradans listed climate change as one of the top three issues that elected officials should address.
Other poll questions stemmed from recent events and news about civil rights, including teaching the history of racism and discrimination in the United States to K-12 students, as well as providing a safe environment for LGBTQ+ students at school.
Eighty-two percent of those polled say they agree with the following statement: We should teach the complete and accurate history of racial discrimination in the United States, even if it makes some people uncomfortable.
For Bailey, he believes this “raises the question: is this bogeyman term related to K-12 education” causing true outrage from some Americans or “was it something more of a dog whistle?”
The poll also paid close attention to trust and the importance of voting. The results show Coloradans do generally believe voting is essential to making change, but they also have concerns about whether elected officials truly look out for them. At the same time, Colorado voters said they trust their local leaders more than federal lawmakers.
To read a full overview of the poll, click here.
Amanda Horvath is a managing producer with Rocky Mountain PBS. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.