Just 27% of likely Albuquerque voters take a positive view of the city’s economy, even though many say their personal finances haven’t changed much since the COVID-19 pandemic reached New Mexico more than a year and a half ago.
A new Journal Poll showed that 25% of respondents rated the strength of Albuquerque’s economy as “good,” while just 2% rated it as “excellent.” Meanwhile, 71% of respondents rated the economy as either “fair” or “poor.”
However, Brian Sanderoff, president of Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc., which conducted the poll, said there is a bright side for city economic leaders: Most of those respondents (50% overall) rate the economy as fair rather than the lowest option. A similar poll from 2017 found that 35% of respondents rated the economy as “poor,” with another 47% rating it “fair.”
“So, we have a long way to go in increasing the strength of our economy, but at least we have half the people who are rating it as ‘fair,'” Sanderoff said.
As with other poll questions, the view of the city’s economy showed a strong partisan divide, with 34% of Republicans rating the economy as poor, compared to 12% of Democrats. Sanderoff said views on the economic progress of the city often correlate with which party occupies the highest office.
“If we had a Republican mayor, I think we’d see more Republicans being complimentary of the overall direction of the economy,” Sanderoff said.
Sanderoff added that the pandemic likely played a part in respondents’ views. The pandemic, and associated restrictions meant to contain the spread of the virus, contributed to a number of businesses closing their doors, while causing unemployment to spike in New Mexico and across the country. Sanderoff said the combination of high unemployment and businesses struggling to find workers would leave a wide range of people who are dissatisfied with the economic situation.
“Those are prime ingredients for people to be complaining about the strength of the economy,” Sanderoff said.
Despite that, the poll also found that the pandemic didn’t change most respondents’ perception of their own financial status very much. Asked if they were financially better off, worse off or about the same as before the pandemic, 66% of respondents said their financial situation is about the same.
“COVID had a tremendous economic and social, emotional impact on Albuquerque, but there still was a majority of people who managed to keep their job and weather through it all,” Sanderoff said. “And we’re seeing that in the data.”
The poll showed that 16% of respondents said they were better off financially than before the pandemic, while 18% said they were worse off. Among respondents without a high school diploma, nearly twice as many said they were worse off (27%) as said they were better off (14%).
While respondents were less than bullish when asked directly about the economy, Sanderoff said the poll also showed that the economy was top of mind for fewer Albuquerque residents. Asked what they believe is the biggest issue facing residents in the Albuquerque Metro area today, just 3% of respondents cited the weak economy, putting it behind crime, homelessness, poor education, COVID-19 and the proposed soccer stadium on the list of responses.
“It wasn’t all that long ago that the big thing was the economy,” Sanderoff said.
The poll, which took place between Oct. 15 through Oct. 21, was based on a scientific, citywide sample of 536 likely regular local election voters. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points. The margin of error grows for sub samples.
All interviews were conducted by live, professional interviewers, with multiple callbacks to households that did not initially answer the phone.
Both cellphone numbers (82%) and landlines (18%) were used.
On Wednesday: Albuquerque voters weigh in on the biggest issues facing the city.