It was almost two years ago when people across Connecticut started becoming concerned about the coronavirus. The first case was discovered in early March of 2020 and since then, there have been more than 700,000 cases. Now, the picture of how people are feeling about the state’s future is becoming clearer.
In a new survey, Tremont Public Advisors found that fewer Connecticut residents think the state is heading in the right direction. The survey found 54 percent of people believe Connecticut is on the right track; a decrease from 57 percent in November 2021.
NBC Connecticut’s Dan Corcoran spoke with Matt Hennessy, the Managing Director of Tremont Public Advisors.
DAN CORCORAN: Matt, the majority of people are still optimistic about Connecticut's future, but that optimism seems to be shrinking as the pandemic wears on. So what's happened since the last survey that you did a few months ago that might have contributed to these declining numbers?
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MATT HENNESSY: The two big issues for voters across the country are the issue of how is the pandemic affecting their life, and the issue of inflation and jobs. Those are two main drivers to this larger question of 'is Connecticut on the right track?’ or 'is Connecticut on the wrong track?' We can look back and in November of last year, that's when this poll was released, that the number of cases were going down of COVID. There was a very low statewide infection rate and there were a number of popular safety measures that were put in place.
DAN: Let's talk about these COVID-19 policies because they do continue to change. The mask mandate for schools is expected to end just a couple of weeks. And as more of these restrictions are lifted, how does that affect the public optimism levels?
MATT: The polling nationally shows that people are frustrated, regardless of whether they're in favor of certain restrictions or not. As a general rule, voters are frustrated. What I think the challenge here is that if as the state is lifting mandates that once again, have the majority of support. Now, I'm not saying mandates are popular. I'm saying that but voters and residents generally understand why they're in place, as the state goes about lifting these mandates. If that happens, I think that generally, there will be a surge in in feeling that the state is going in the right direction.
DAN: What are some of the short concerns outside of COVID-19 that people seem to have at this point? What are their biggest concerns these days?
MATT: The two drivers outside of COVID, inflation and jobs are the next bucket of concerns that people have and for some, it's the number one issue. For others, it's the number two issue, but the idea of inflation and jobs. The fact that basic costs are going up, that could definitely impact the number of people who are on the wrong track. And one of the things that we did identify in our survey is one of the biggest demographics that changed its perception, they're still positive about direction state were women. Are these issues going to force more women to have a negative view of the direction the state and if you're an incumbent, it's not going to be good for you.