Quint Studer and the Pensacola Young Professionals released the 2021 Quality of Life Survey at the CivicCon event held on Tuesday, Jan. 17. Since 2009, Quint and Rishy Studer have paid for the annual survey to measure the attitudes of Escambia County voters on our local economy elected leaders and quality of life. Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, located in Washington D.C., has conducted the survey on behalf of PYP and the Studer Community Institute, interviewing 800 Escambia County voters by telephone.
The goal has been to improve the discussion of issues by identifying how the public feels about them, moving away from generalities to specific measurements. On WCOA 1370 AM/104.9 FM, Studer told Inweekly publisher Rick Outzen, “Our whole goal has always been to have respectful, healthy, civic conversations based on facts.”
The first survey in 2008 had dismal results. Though city voters had approved building the Community Maritime Park two years earlier, the project had been mired in red tape, lawsuits and petition drives. The 2008 Quality of Life survey reflected the community’s frustrations, with less than one person out of four believing the city and county were headed in the right direction.
After over a year of battling the coronavirus, the 2021 Quality of Life survey found 52% felt Escambia County is heading in the right direction, while 55% believed Pensacola is doing so. Both percentages are down about 10 points from the 2020 survey.
The job performances for Mayor Grover Robinson (53% excellent or good), Escambia County Commission (33%), Pensacola City Council (37%), School Superintendent (41%) and Escambia County School Board (36%) were about the same as last year. The city council had the largest improvement, 2 points, and the school board had the biggest drop, 7 points.
Respondents rated the economic conditions in Escambia County one point higher than they did in 2020, from 35% saying good or excellent to 36%. In 2008, only 14% believed the county’s economy was good or excellent. The majority saw the economy being the same five years from now, 52%. Fewer people were concerned about job security, dropping from 51% to 49%.
Most years, the economy/jobs were rated the most important issue in the city and county. In the 2021 survey, people saw COVID (16%) as the top issue in Escambia County, followed by education (14%), with crime/drugs and economy/jobs tied (13%). In the city of Pensacola, crime/drugs topped the list (15%), followed by COVID (14%) and economy/jobs (12%). In 2008, economy/jobs received 28% of the votes as the most important issue in both the city and county.
Under Quality of Life factors, the availability of affordable housing had the largest drop, 11 points from 31% ranking it good or excellent last year to 20% in 2020. Public transportation fell 8 points, from 27% to 19%. Public safety and low crime declined 6 points from 37% to 31%.