Hoosiers share thoughts on Holcomb, abortion, public health in new survey

Gov. Eric Holcomb speaking at Purdue University, Wednesday, July 20, 2022 (Peter Blanchard/IBJ)

Less than half of Hoosiers who were interviewed for a new statewide survey said they approve of the job Gov. Eric Holcomb is doing in state office, according to a new report released Monday.

Even fewer of the surveyed Hoosiers approve of the overall job of President Joe Biden.

The 2022 Hoosier Survey was conducted by Indiana Public Broadcasting and Ball State University’s Bowen Center for Public Affairs. The non-partisan public policy survey — first conducted in 2008 — intends to gauge public opinion on pressing issues facing Indiana residents.

This year’s Hoosier Survey featured interviews with 600 Indiana adults aged 18 and older. The interviews — conducted between Oct. 21 and Nov. 8 — were done online and by telephone. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Survey topics for the latest iteration of the survey included demographics, approval of elected officials, abortion, wages and income, public health, environment, polarization, and civic engagement.

Approval rates

Holcomb, a Republican, was re-elected by a wide margin for a second term as governor in 2020. He still remains fairly popular among Hoosiers — about 48.7% of people in the Hoosier Survey approve of his job performance, while just 34.7% disapprove.

Of those surveyed, 65% who identified as Republicans approved of Holcomb’s job, while 22% disapproved.

Roughly 17% of all who were surveyed didn’t know Holcomb or had no opinion of him.

The latest approval numbers are a dip from survey response statistics in 2017. Less than a year into office, Holcomb had a high net approval rating, with 52% of Hoosiers approving and only 13% disapproving of his job performance.

The previous survey results showed many Hoosiers were still getting to know Holcomb — approximately 35% of Hoosiers expressed that they didn’t know whether they approve or disapprove of his job performance yet.

In 2019, Holcomb continued to have a high net approval rating, however, with 50% of survey respondents approving and only 17% disapproving of his job performance.

Since then, the governor has drawn criticism —  even from those within his own party — mostly over COVID-19 restrictions like mask mandates and the stay-at-home order.

Results from the 2020 Hoosier Survey indicated that 60% of people interviewed supported limiting the governor’s emergency powers by restricting the term of emergency orders to 30 days unless an extension is approved by the General Assembly.

Biden’s most recent approval rating in Indiana is comparatively worse – just 35.3% of those surveyed in 2022 approve of the president’s job. About 58% of Hoosier respondents disapprove.

About 43% of people polled approve of the Indiana legislature’s performance. On the flip side, 44% said they do not approve of the General Assembly’s work.

The Indiana General Assembly’s job approval rating was at 45% in 2019, according to Hosier Survey results. The legislature’s disapproval rating at that time was 19%, marking its lowest point in the history of the survey.

Abortion

A majority of Hoosiers surveyed, 56.7%, said they believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Most Hoosiers — more than 76% — find abortion to be an “important” or at least “somewhat important” issue.

Hoosier voters were almost evenly split on whether they would vote for a candidate that has a different stance on the issue, with 48% saying they would not and 52% saying they would or might still vote for such a candidate.

There was additionally overwhelming support for exceptions to allow abortion when the women’s life is at risk or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.  Even in the case where a child could be born with defects or health problems, 62% of people who responded to the survey said they still believe an abortion should be legal.

temporary injunction has put Indiana’s new abortion ban on hold until at least January. Under that injunction, the state’s previous abortion law stands — allowing abortions up to 20 weeks — while the matter continues to play out in court.

Wages and income

Overall, Hoosiers responded that their wages and income appear to be doing well.

Almost 40% of Hoosiers who took the survey said they would be able to pay for a $1,000 unexpected expense from savings, while almost 54% said they would have to cut costs or take some form of loan.

Almost 56% of Hoosiers said they pay 40% or less of their income toward their mortgage or rent, and 63% reported never being late on a rent or mortgage payment.

Public health and the environment

Hoosiers overall support their public health departments, according to the survey. Over 80% rated them in the 6-10 range on a 10-point scale, with 10 being “extremely important.”

Hoosier views on marijuana are favorable, too, with more than 85% of respondents saying that marijuana should be legal in some form, and 15% saying it should be illegal.

Concern for the environment also seems to be high — 51.2% of Hoosier Survey respondents said they believe protecting the environment should take precedence over economic growth.

​​Almost 60% of those surveyed said too little is currently being done to protect the environment, and just 5% said “too much” is being done. Most Hoosiers took a middle ground when rating the quality of the environment in Indiana, though, with almost 64% calling it only “good” or “fair.”

Civic engagement and polarization

Overall, Hoosier Survey participants said they like the communities they live in. Almost 80% rated their local community as a “good” place to live. Most respondents reported talking to their neighbor at least a few times a month.

Still, nearly 16% of Hoosiers said they never talk to their neighbor. Further, over 60% of those who were interviewed said they do not volunteer locally or belong to any community groups or organizations.

The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that covers state government, policy and elections.

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