Garrity Perception Survey 2011-2015 Analysis

The national sea change of politics in both the Republican and Democratic primary has been difficult to miss.  The Republicans have Donald Trump and the Democrats have Senator Bernie Sanders; both represent a non-traditional candidate and unique messaging.  Both are focused on changing what they view as the status quo at the federal level.

The primary election cycle got me thinking to take a look at one of the professions tracked in the annual Garrity Perception Survey: Federal Government Officials.

As background, the Garrity Perception Survey is an annual survey of New Mexico residents.  The Garrity Group commissions Research and Polling to measure favorability of industries, trust of professions and how residents access news and information.  The scientific survey has a 95 percent level of confidence and has been held during the same time of year (February/March) since 2011.

Federal Government Officials

Overall, New Mexico residents’ trust of federal officials has slipped three points over the past five years.  The level of distrust has increased nine points during the same timeframe.

Getting into the cross tabs, males are more untrusting of federal government officials than females (up 11 percent and 6 percent respectively); Republicans are more untrusting (up 7 percent) than those who are registered as Democrats (up 1 percent) over the five years.   However, Independent voters distrust the government more than then two traditional parties (up 16 percent).

Geographically, distrust is highest in the Albuquerque area (up 11 percent) and the Las Cruces/Southwest (up 20 percent) over the past five years.

State Government Officials

New Mexico residents distrust of state government officials is up seven points over the past five years.  Females (up 7 percent) are more distrusting than males (up 5 percent).  And while Democrats and Republicans are nearly unchanged in their level of distrust, independent voters have seen their level of distrust increase by 18 percent over the past five years. 

Geographically, the Las Cruces/Southwest (up 22 percent), Albuquerque and Eastern New Mexico (both up 13 percent) have the highest levels of distrust of state federal officials.

Based on this analysis, incumbent candidates facing non-traditional candidates could have an edge this election cycle if they are able to convince independent voters and middle of the road Democrats/Republicans to support his/her cause.