Georgia College poll: Education, jobs are Georgians’ chief concerns

In general, Georgians are optimistic about Georgia.

That was one of several findings released Monday in a new State of the State poll conducted by Georgia College & State University’s Department of Government and Sociology.

Education, jobs, transportation and taxes are the issues of most concern to Georgians, according to the poll, which surveyed 500 people randomly across the state. The margin of error for the poll is 4.4 percent.

Education was the top concern among Georgians at 21 percent, followed closely by jobs at 20 percent. Georgians indicated they are willing to pay more to support public schools and are in favor of more charter schools and a Common Core curriculum, according to the data.

“Our goal is to do (the poll) every year,” said Costas Spirou, chairman of the department. “It generates longitudinal data on our perception of issues.”

Among those polled, 57.7 percent said the state was headed in the right direction, compared with 25.7 percent who said Georgia is headed in the wrong direction.

Among Middle Georgians, jobs is considered to be the most important issue. Overall, 54.7 percent of those polled are satisfied with economic development efforts, the poll said, while 42.1 percent think the economy is about the same as it was a year ago. More people (34.7 percent) feel the economy is doing better as compared to last year, while 14.4 percent think it’s worse.

Spirou said last year’s poll was presented to state lawmakers in 2014 when they visited the university, and he expects to make a similar presentation this year.

About 70 percent of the questions didn’t change from last year’s poll, while the remaining 30 percent was new questions tailored to some of the key issues in the state, he said.

For example, more than 64 percent of the respondents are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. On the flip side, 48.8 percent oppose same-sex marriage, compared with 42.4 percent who favor it.

In addition to using four geographic regions -- metro Atlanta and north, middle and south Georgia -- in analyzing the data, researchers also broke the data down into gender and race on several issues.

Spirou said he thinks this year’s and next year’s polls will provide key information to both Democratic and Republican candidates in next year’s presidential race, since it will identify the most prominent issues Georgians are concerned with, and if they are leaning for or against a particular issue.

To view the complete results of the poll, visit www.gcsu.edu/gov/GAStateofStatePoll.htm.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.