Food has gotten more expensive. The cost of gas reached record highs this year. Skyrocketing home prices have made purchasing a home a fever dream for many New Mexicans.
And New Mexicans are obviously feeling the pinch.
Inflation is the top concern facing New Mexico families, with economic uncertainty coming in second, according to the latest Journal Poll. That is in sharp contrast to two years ago when COVID-19 was by far the top concern, according to polling at the time.
In the most recent poll, conducted last week by Research & Polling Inc., 35% cited inflation as a top concern facing their family and 24% named economic uncertainty. Crime came in third, with 19% listing it as a top concern facing their family, and job loss came in fourth with 9% listing it.
Brian Sanderoff, president of Research Polling & Inc., said inflation is likely a concern for most families because of the economic impacts to the supply chain across the globe that are increasing the cost to live.
“Ironically, some of the inflation and some of the economic woes that we’re facing are due to supply chain issues (caused by COVID),” Sanderoff said.
He pointed out that three of the top four concerns dealt with the economy.
Respondents were asked the open-ended question of “What is the biggest issue facing your family right now,” and they were allowed to name up to three concerns.
Inflation, economic uncertainty
Inflation is largely marked through the Consumer Price Index, the measurement of the change in prices paid by consumers for goods. The CPI rose 9.1% year over year in June and 8.5% year over year in July. While recent falling prices on gas, used cars and airfares have helped a lot of families, the CPI for food increased 10.9% in July from the same time last year. That was the largest increase since May 1979, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Both men and women listed inflation as a top concern in even numbers while Anglo voters (32%) did not cite inflation quite as often as Hispanic voters (39%).
Forty-four percent of respondents that have either some college experience or an associate’s degree see inflation as a top concern for their families. About 33% who have a high school diploma or less cited it as a top concern while about 29% of those with a college degree or higher listed it.
Meanwhile, the 40% of poll respondents who are likely to vote for Republican Mark Ronchetti for governor this November see inflation as a primary concern for their families. That’s compared to 31% of people likely to vote to reelect incumbent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat.
Sanderoff said he defines economic uncertainty, which ranked second, as the “current economic situation in their family,” adding that it is a concept tied into inflation.
Thirty percent of men surveyed said they see it as a top concern, compared to 18% of women.
Sanderoff said men were more likely to mention economic uncertainty while women listed education more often than men.
Like inflation, economic uncertainty proved to be a concern for more likely Ronchetti voters – with 27% of them choosing that response compared to 21% of likely Lujan Grisham voters.
Other numbers, responses
While inflation and economic concerns topped the ratings, crime still proved to be a big concern for 19% of respondents. That’s far higher than two years ago, when crime ranked sixth when the same question was asked. Sanderoff said if the question had been framed slightly differently – asking about, for example, concerns facing the state rather than concerns facing families – crime likely would have climbed up in the polling rankings.
About 25% of Albuquerque metro area respondents identified crime as a concern, according to the poll. Crime tended to be less important in other areas of the state, including in Las Cruces and southwestern New Mexico where 11% of respondents chose that answer.
Crime, though, tends to be nearly equally important for both Republicans and Democrats, according to the data. Twenty percent of Democrats chose crime as a top concern compared to about 18% of Republicans.
“People in Albuquerque were more likely than the other regions to mention crime,” Sanderoff said. “COVID came up more in the north and northwest Indian counties.”
About 7% of respondents chose COVID as a top concern – a major shift from a 2020 Journal Poll when 40% of the respondents ranked it as a top concern facing families.
Just 3% of respondents chose homelessness as a top concern facing their families in the latest poll. Other concerns included education, food insecurity, climate change and public safety.
The Journal Poll is based on a scientific, statewide sample of 518 voters who cast ballots in the 2018 and/or 2020 general election and who said they are likely to vote in the upcoming election.
The poll was conducted from Aug. 19 through Aug. 25. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points. The margin of error grows for subsamples.
All interviews were conducted by live, professional interviewers, with multiple callbacks to households that did not initially answer the phone.
Both cellphone numbers (79%) and landlines (21%) of proven general election voters were used.