The About Perception Podcast: 2023 Trust of State Government Officials

By The Garrity Group


Tom Garrity and Matt Grubbs talk about how state government officials are perceived in New Mexico.

Full Transcript

Tom Garrity [00:00:05] Welcome to the Perception Podcast, a product of the Garrity Group public relations based in New Mexico. This is Tom Garrity. In today’s podcast, we’re going to dive into an aspect of the 2023 Garrity Perception Survey, specifically the level of trust New Mexico residents have of state government officials now. We’re reporting this on Friday, August 11th. And in the show notes, you can actually learn a little bit more about the information that we have about the scientific survey, which was conducted March 15th through April 2nd, 2023. Now, to set up today’s conversation with KOB-TV investigative reporter and executive producer Matt Grubbs. Here’s some information about how state government officials have fared in favorability of New Mexico residents. New Mexico residents were asked to rate their trust of 15 people and professions using a five point scale where a score of five is complete trust and a score of one is complete distrust. Now, those who are looking for an “AHA” moment to support your political leanings. Well, historically, since 2011, when the GPS was first conducted, more people have distrust in state government officials than trusted, for example, 2011. 23% trusted state government in 2014. Trust of state government hit an all-time low of 15%. And ten years later, in 2023, only 24% of residents trust state government, so slightly better than 2011 and 2014, but is better still good when less than a quarter of New Mexico residents say they trust state government officials. Joining me today to join to dig into the perceptions of these numbers is longtime friend and colleague Matt Grubbs. And Matt, I think what we first met over at the legislature you were covering was that the first time that we met it?

 Matt Grubs [00:02:05] It feels like it. I mean, maybe so that would have been was working for a different news outlet at that time? No, I was working for KOAT out of the Santa Fe bureau and I think. That would have been our first introduction.

 Tom Garrity [00:02:22] Yeah.

 Matt Grubs [00:02:22] To each other?

 Tom Garrity [00:02:23] Yeah, because I was working with Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez and I, and Governor Richardson was in the midst of his first term, I believe.

 Matt Grubs [00:02:35] Yeah, those were heady times. I kind of missed those in some ways. Oh, yeah.

 Tom Garrity [00:02:39] Oh, my goodness. Well, it’s thank you for making time today. It’s great to reconnect on a podcast and great to catch up. So, Matt, first impression on these 2023 numbers with 24% trust and in some sense of perspective of 44% distrust of state government officials.

 Matt Grubs [00:03:01] I’m sure my first impression is that state government officials are really on a run since 2014 when they’re up about 10%. I have a feeling journalists have not fared quite so well lately.

 Tom Garrity [00:03:16] Better topic of another show, but go ahead.

 Matt Grubs [00:03:20] You know the number honestly, Tom, that stuck out to me in this was the 33% who neither trusted nor distrusted state government officials. And, you know, you talk about perception that sort of slots with me in this idea that we’re really not sure how to feel about the people we elect to office. They, in my experience, have gotten a lot better at running for office if they’ve gotten better at actually being in office. And maybe that’s an open question. And I think the public right now is skeptical of a lot of things and public officials fall into that. When you look at that 33%, a third of the folks kind of saying, you know, the jury’s out and may depend more on the individual elected official or state government official. That to me indicates that there are some people out there who are willing to give people a little bit of lead, but they really want to see results, too.

Tom Garrity [00:04:23] Good insight. You know, when the first GPS was sent out in 2011 and people were quick to say that this is a referendum on the governor, and then we changed governors and the numbers didn’t change. So who do you know? Who do you think New Mexico residents perceive as a state government official?

Matt Grubs [00:04:42] Yeah, you know, the governor, I think, is probably at the top of that list mid-career and maybe David Scrase, the HSD. And now then Department of Health and then both secretary, I think you know, state officials. In a state you really don’t see a whole lot. Attorneys general, we’ve had some that have had fairly high profiles, especially, I think, our current one and our last one, Hector Balderas and now currently Raul Torres. I think they maintain sort of higher profiles. But as you know, AGs kind of tend to fly above the fray because they’re seen as law enforcers and they don’t necessarily do anything wrong. So it it’s interesting. I don’t know what is, you know, having been in that position that you were working in the state House. What is your perception of how voters and how the kinds of people who respond to this survey have about their legislative leaders during the session versus the rest of the year?

Tom Garrity [00:05:49] Yeah, you know, it’s a great question because it really kind of raises who is that government official? And, you know, all politics are local. So, you know, state government officials, you know, can mean a variety of different things from who is, you know, on the fourth floor, meaning the fourth floor of the Roundhouse, the governor’s office, who their state representative is. We are state senator is or even what kind of experience that people would have with state government. And that those were some of the things just kind of listening it, you know, lending an ear to, you know, what the concerns were of different constituents that ranged from their experience at MVD. It included backups on I-25. Why that’s not fixed, I don’t know. But, you know, to basically the last mile of government service is what people perceive as being a state government official, you know, because it’s it was all local to them and which kind of raises a question in a in a kind of a unique way. Follow me on this one that if tourism is the front yard of the state, economic development is the front porch of state government, and New Mexico has a lot going for it in the tourism arena. Why aren’t there tourism cocktails for state government officials here? I think people love tourism, but why doesn’t it kind of it stops there, doesn’t it?

Matt Grubs [00:07:21] Sure. Yeah. You know, part of that is that if you live here, you’re not necessarily a tourist. But I think I think that last mile. Analogy really, really works for a lot of people. Think we’ve seen. And maybe that is, you know, I made a joke about the run that that state government officials were on. But, you know, you think back to 2014, Susana Martinez was very outspoken about wanting to shrink state government. And there were a lot of vacancies in state government. I know we love, myself included, to think of state government as being tremendously inefficient, but maybe that says that that we do see a difference, you know, when they are really down and kind of cut, that they are not delivering the services that we’re used to in the fashion that we’re used to receiving that. Yeah. No, that’s. I’m going.

Tom Garrity [00:08:20] Oh, that’s okay. You’re a busy guy, man. I mean, you know.

Matt Grubs [00:08:23] It’s.

Tom Garrity [00:08:24] It’s hardly.

Matt Grubs [00:08:25] Breaking. Yeah, it’s breaking into my. I was.

Tom Garrity [00:08:29] That’s. That’s my simplisafe.

Matt Grubs [00:08:31] Alarm.

Tom Garrity [00:08:33] Well, I’ll give you permission to. To kind of check your ring doorbell to see what’s out.

Matt Grubs [00:08:39] There and try it. Exactly.

Tom Garrity [00:08:42] What?

Matt Grubs [00:08:43] Yeah.

Tom Garrity [00:08:44] So some quick lightning round questions for you. Okay. Little bit of fun on this, and I’m totally putting you on the spot, but not really. But yeah, put me on the spot. So. Who has more trust of state government, Republicans or independents?

Matt Grubs [00:09:02] Independents.

Tom Garrity [00:09:03] You are correct. Okay. So like the nice margin. We’ll get into that in a minute because I’m going to ask you about Democrats or independents. Who has more trust?

Matt Grubs [00:09:15] Oh, then I go, Democrats are independents.

Tom Garrity [00:09:19] Oh. Okay. So now the last matchup of this lightning round is independents or unregistered voters.

Matt Grubs [00:09:28] Well, independents there.

Tom Garrity [00:09:31] You are correct.

Matt Grubs [00:09:33] Okay.

Tom Garrity [00:09:33] So you’ll like Ed McMahon. Oh, yes, you are correct.

Matt Grubs [00:09:39] And it’s wild stuff.

Tom Garrity [00:09:41] Yeah, it’s nice. So who has a greater, greater distrust of state governments, Republicans or independents?

Matt Grubs [00:09:50] I would say Republicans.

Tom Garrity [00:09:52] And you would be correct. When we look at Democrats or independents, who has greater distrust?

Matt Grubs [00:09:59] Independents.

Tom Garrity [00:10:00] You are correct. Wait, what happens if you get like all three? Okay.

Matt Grubs [00:10:05] I think you have to leave the outgoing message on my voicemail. Do I.

Tom Garrity [00:10:10] Like it? I like it. And then we have unregistered voters or independent voters who has greater distrust of government officials.

Matt Grubs [00:10:24] They’re all go unregistered.

Tom Garrity [00:10:25] In that case. Send me the passcodes your voicemail, and I will leave them all. Create a unique voicemail for you. Yeah.

Matt Grubs [00:10:37] But. Wow. So that’s interesting. On the independence and the trust thing, I mean, that sort of, at least to me, speaks to if you are a state government official and you can get state government to deliver services, people respect that. And theoretically they would vote on that. You know, if you can’t make stuff work and get rid of the backups on 25 and, you know, the potholes and, you know, southeastern New Mexico, then I think really people respect that. And maybe that’s maybe that’s that 33% who are who are unsure how they feel.

Tom Garrity [00:11:11] Yeah. And, you know, I’d be interested, you know, to spend a little bit of time with Brian Sanderoff up on this because his company, Research and Polling put together the poll and, you know, all of the residents answered quite well, actually, all but 1% answered this particular question. So, you know, I wonder of those who answered why they’re staying away from the poll, because, you know, we’re definitely not seeing 99% turnout. You know, it’s people are choosing not to be involved. And I’m going to go off script now. But, you know, when you look at Republicans, you know, only 8% trust state government. 62% distrust. Here’s one for independence. They’re at 34% trust versus 38%. And then the unregistered. This should be no surprise, but it’s still interesting. 19% have trust and 45% distrust. Of course, they’re not engaged in the process because they’re unregistered voters. But Democrats. Where do you think this one lies? Is it Do more Democrats trust or distrust state government?

Matt Grubs [00:12:31] Oh, I would still think net negative on that one.

Tom Garrity [00:12:34] Yeah, well, it’s actually a trick because it’s tied at 29% to 29%. I had the Ah, that one didn’t like.

Matt Grubs [00:12:43] You, did. You did.

Tom Garrity [00:12:46] But, you know, so when we look at this, it’s really interesting, you know, when we. Let me see if I can find these numbers here just real quick. But no, I’m not going to try and find it right now. But when we look at regionally, residents in north central New Mexico have a higher level of trust, 28% than the Las Cruces, southwest New Mexico area at 21% trust. Here’s what’s interesting about residents in north central New Mexico with 28% trust. When you look at federal government officials, it’s also some of the highest in the state in the north central part of the state. And when you think about what everything that they’ve been through, you know, with the fires last year, what you know, why do you think there’s a higher level of trust in the north central part of the state than any other part of the state?

Matt Grubs [00:13:47] Yeah, especially with the fires. That’s a fantastic point. On a on a state level, you know, state officials, I would say they’re just closer to the center of power and closer to the services. Las Cruces, as I think we saw with Susana Martinez, this administration for so long, they felt closer to Texas than they have to New Mexico, even. That’s where all their taxes go. You know. So. But, boy, I. I can’t. You know as much as we. Eight in north central New Mexico really have issues with the Forest Service. We love the forest, right? We still want to graze cattle there, gather firewood there, recreate there. And so potentially and those are really some of the ways in which you see I mean, there aren’t any military bases up there. So those are really some of the ways in which you see the federal government impacting. North central New Mexico. A number of pueblos up there, too.

Tom Garrity [00:14:55] Well, in the you know, the area, north central traditionally votes Democrat. There’s a Democrat in the office. And I think the level I think there might be actually some coattails at the state with the federal level, at the state level. So I think the federal response to the area, even though federal was to blame for some of the, you know, controlled burns, I think that they did such a good job in trying to make residents whole up there that they were able to pull the state along in conjunction with being a very traditionally blue blue area.

Matt Grubs [00:15:34] Yeah. Although, you know, I mean, we we’ve both heard stories of folks in San Miguel and Morrow counties who are who are deeply frustrated with FEMA’s response. And it’s I know you worked during doing the perception survey post show Green Day or anything like that. But you know. And well, gosh, you think of Los Alamos in north Central. I’m guessing that’s where Brian and his crew over there. Research and Polling place.

Tom Garrity [00:16:03] No, that’s interesting, though, because that was in 2001.

Matt Grubs [00:16:08] I want to say.

Tom Garrity [00:16:09] Yeah. And so, yeah, we could actually go back because actually, that’s what I did.

Matt Grubs [00:16:15] Oh, did you really?

Tom Garrity [00:16:16] Not for not for North Central New Mexico, but just for grins. I was curious to see, like back in 2012, when Susana Martinez was governor, did you know, was there all of a sudden giant upswell of, you know, Republicans saying, well, now that our persons in office, of course, we have higher trust and stuff. And so knowing that the benchmark is 8% amongst Republicans in 2012. Yes, indeed, 20% of Republicans trust state government and 46% distrust. So you would almost think that there would be that flip taking place. Right. Whereas the Democrats have, you know, 29 and 29% now. Well, back then, it was only 18% trust of state government and 43% distrust. So there wasn’t a whole lot of bipartisan love taking place at this particular point time. But both parties equally just distrusted what was happening in Santa Fe.

Matt Grubs [00:17:19] Yeah, that’s right. That is interesting. Hmm.

Tom Garrity [00:17:24] Oh, my. Well, very good. So let me see. Here we have. Just back on the regional type of information, which is kind of interesting, is that, you know how we break it down with completely trust with fives and fours. Five is completely trust. Four is just trust. Well, in the last crisis South-West area, nobody completely trusts the government, which I think is really interesting seeing all the discussion that’s been taking place with the accusations of gerrymandering of the 2nd Congressional District down there, you know, that has some kind of impact on trust of government in the southwestern part of the state. Thoughts?

Matt Grubs [00:18:09] Sure. Well, you know, you talk about I could definitely see that you talk about coattails also from the federal government. I mean, that really is where New Mexico interacts with the international order. And sometimes when folks are concerned or upset about policies on the border, I have a feeling that kind of trickles down to state government to point.

Tom Garrity [00:18:33] Okay. So let’s talk about this. What are you up to it, KOB-TV What do our listeners need to know about Channel 4 and what’s happening?

Matt Grubs [00:18:42] Thank you very much for the chance to talk about that. Really working on some accountability stuff right now. We have done a number of stories on elected officials, particularly out in Gallup, McKinley County, the district attorney out there. It’s a story that we’re continuing to pursue issues with, with prosecution, people who are victims or whose family members have been victims of some perceived crimes that just aren’t getting prosecuted. That’s something that we continue to follow here. We’ve got something coming up very interesting next week. Ryan Laughlin is working on a story on Albuquerque Community Services and kind of the changing face of that department that has been a key to Tim Keller’s administration and I think will play a big role in how we all think about Tim Keller if and when he is ever not the mayor.

Tom Garrity [00:19:37] And a very special thanks to Matt Grubbs with KOB-TV for joining us today on the Perception podcast. And full disclosure, I just have the free version of the Zoom and that’s how we record our episodes. And wouldn’t you know it, that we spent most of our time during our free 40 minutes talking, just catching up, Matt and I. So when it came to the actual broadcast production portion, well, we got a little compressed at the end, so no need to worry. We will still have the full results of the 2023 Garrity Perception Survey around Labor Day. And until then, we will continue to share thoughts like this on You can also sign up by way of the to receive a link when the results are all released and who knows, I might actually upgrade to a full version of Zoom. That would probably be advisable. Thank you for listening to the Perception podcast where today we took a look at the 2023 Gary Perception survey and the level of trust New Mexico residents have of state government officials. This is Tom Garrity. Thanks for listening.

Published August 14, 2023

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