According to Gallup, some 81 percent of North Dakotans trust their state government. That’s the highest level of trust out of all the states.
Illinois, meanwhile, is the least trusted state. This isn’t the first time North Dakota has topped this list. In 2014 the state came out on top as well.
North Dakota’s economic success apparently has a lot to do with the rating.
“There is a strong positive relationship between residents’ ratings of their state’s economy and their confidence in state government,” Gallup reports.
“North Dakota, Utah, Minnesota and Nebraska are four states in which residents rate their state’s economy positively and express high confidence in their state government,” they continue.
Given that this polling was done from March 30-Dec. 22 of 2015, and that North Dakota has a very different fiscal and economic outlook today, this polling may not reflect current attitudes.
Indeed, Gallup acknowledges this. “Given the strong relationship between residents’ perceptions of their state’s economic health and their confidence in state government, some of the states with less confidence could see that turn around if economic conditions in the state improve,” the report. “And by the same token, states that have higher trust in their government could see that erode if the state’s economy worsens, something that bears watching in energy-producing states like Wyoming and North Dakota, where residents are less optimistic about the direction their economy is headed.”
How North Dakotans feel about the economic performance of their state is a big factor right now. There is a heated gubernatorial nomination competition among three Republican candidates – the outcome of which will likely select the next governor given that state Democrats seem intent on being a non-factor this election cycle – and with budget shortfalls and a fading oil boom in the headlines perceptions are going to impact how voters cast their ballots.
Will the trust they felt during boom-time North Dakota continue in the post-boom years? That’s the key question. I’m inclined to think that not much has changed. Sure, this polling is based on surveys from last year, but there was plenty of news about the fading oil boom last year too.
This is something (as I’ve noted previously) of particular importance to Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, one of the three aforementioned candidates. If Gallup’s polling remains a largely accurate portrayal of how North Dakotans feel this election cycle, then I don’t see how Stenehjem – who is very much the “status quo” candidate – can lose.
If North Dakota attitudes have shifted there may be an opening for either state Rep. Rick Becker or Fargo businessman Doug Burgum, the other two candidates, who are calling for big changes to how the state handles its budget and economic development.