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Coloradans’ Perspectives on Health, Quality of Life, and Midterm Elections

Section Two: Coloradans’ Outlook and Priorities for State Government

Moving past the midterm elections, Coloradans have a positive outlook for the future of both the state and their own local communities. Six in ten Coloradans (58 percent) say things in Colorado are “generally going in the right direction today” while one-third (34 percent) say things have “pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.” Seven in ten (69 percent) say things in their local community are going in the right direction compared to one-quarter who say things are off on the wrong track. These results run somewhat counter to how Coloradans feel about the country generally, where a slight majority (55 percent) say things are off on the wrong track, while four in ten (39 percent) say things are going in the right direction.

Figure 8: Majorities Say Colorado And Local Community Are Headed In Right Direction, Fewer Say Same About Country

Coloradan’s outlook for their local community, state, and the country are largely driven by partisanship, with most Democrats holding a positive outlook for the state (67 percent) compared to about half of independents (52 percent) and Republicans (48 percent). Republicans, on the other hand, are more positive in their outlook for the country, with seven in ten (69 percent) saying things in the country, generally, are going in the right direction compared to one-third of independents (34 percent) and an even smaller share of Democrats (14 percent). Regardless of partisanship, about seven in ten Coloradans say things in their local community are headed in the right direction.

Figure 9: Democrats Have Positive Outlook For Colorado; Republicans Hold Positive Outlook About The Country

Coloradans View Economy Improving, Concerns Remain About Housing, Health Care Costs, and Substance Abuse

Recent reports have consistently ranked Colorado’s economy as one of the best in the country with an overall unemployment rate well below the national average.1 In fact, six in ten Colorado residents say the economy and jobs is one area where things in Colorado are getting “better” (including about three in ten who say it is getting “much better”) compared to 17 percent who say it is getting “worse.” On the other side, a majority of Coloradans say housing costs (80 percent), substance abuse (53 percent), and health care costs (55 percent) are issues that are getting “worse” in Colorado. In many areas including access to health care, education, hunger, mental health care, and crime, significant shares of Coloradans say things are staying about the same.

Figure 10: Majority Of Coloradans Say Economy And Jobs Are Getting Better, Housing And Health Care Costs, Substance Abuse, Are Getting Worse In Their State

Priorities for the State Government

When asked to say in their own words what is the most important issue facing people in the state, Coloradans offer responses touching on a wide range of issues including housing affordability (15 percent), economy and jobs (13 percent), health care (12 percent), environmental concerns (11 percent), and immigration and population growth (10 percent).

Figure 11: When Asked In Their Own Words, Coloradans Offer Various Issues Facing Colorado Today

Republicans are more likely to offer immigration and population growth (16 percent) as the most important issue facing the state, while Democrats and independents are more likely to offer housing-related issues (16 percent and 17 percent, respectively). Similar to previous KFF national polling, Democrats in Colorado are more likely to offer health care (16 percent) as the most important issue compared to both independents (11 percent) and Republicans (10 percent).

Priorities For State Government

When asked about various things the state legislature might do within health care and other areas, all are seen as important by a majority of Coloradans, with health care affordability rising to the top of the list. Eight in ten Coloradans say lowering the amount individuals pay for health care is the “most important” or a “very important” issue for the state government to work. About seven in ten also say that it is at least “very important” for the Colorado state government to work on programs to make housing more affordable and on funding for mental health programs. Fewer, but still a majority, say the same about funding for programs to help people who are experiencing hunger (62 percent), substance abuse treatment and prevention programs (58 percent), programs to help children be physically active (52 percent), and passing a universal health insurance plan, in which all Colorado residents would get their coverage from a single state government plan (51 percent).

Figure 12: Lowering Health Care And Housing Costs Top Coloradans’ List Of Issues For State Government To Work On

While there are differences in how partisans in Colorado view health care priorities for the state legislature, lowering the amount individuals pay for health care is the top health care issue among Democrats (33 percent), independents (26 percent), and Republicans (17 percent). Democrats also prioritize passing a universal health insurance plan (31 percent), while one in five independents (18 percent) say funding for mental health programs is “the most important health issue” for the Colorado state government to work on. Across most health issues provided, fewer Republicans say they are the “most important” for the state to work on.

Figure 13: Lowering Amount People Pay For Health Care Is Top Health Care Issue Across Partisanship

Lowering the amount individuals pay for health care ranks among the top issues for the state government to work on across demographic groups such as region2, race/ethnicity, gender, or self-reported income level. Notably however, half of Black residents (52 percent) say programs to make housing more affordable is the most important issue as do one-third of those earning less than $40,000 annually.

Table 1: Top Health Care Issues for State Legislature by Key Demographics
Percent who say the following is the most important issue for the Colorado state government to work on: Region Race/Ethnicity Self-reported income
Denver/
Boulder
Suburbs Front Range Rural White, Non-Hispanic Black, Non-Hispanic Hisp. <$40k $40k–$89.9k $90k+
Lowering the amount individuals pay for health care 30% 25% 23% 28% 25% 32% 29% 28% 27% 23%
Programs to make housing more affordable 25 24 19 25 20 52 27 33 25 11
Funding for mental health programs 20 19 15 18 16 27 22 21 18 14
Funding for programs to help people who are experiencing hunger 14 14 12 13 11 19 21 21 14 7
Funding for substance abuse treatment/prevention programs 13 10 10 9 8 22 18 14 9 7
Funding for programs to help children be physically active 12 10 10 10 8 22 19 14 11 7
Passing a universal health insurance plan  21  21  17 18 17 43  21  24  20  14
Section One: 2018 Midterm Elections Section Three: Quality of Life in Colorado and Affordability of Housing

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.