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MN Survey Shows Declining Trust in Key Institutions


Monday, September 12, 2022   

The midterm elections are near - meaning candidates, political analysts and the media want to know more about what voters are thinking. Those behind a Minnesota survey project say it offers a detailed look into how a diverse geographic area views certain issues.

Since 2016, community surveys covering Ramsey, Dakota and Washington counties have explored a range of topics. Each East Metro Pulse data book is commissioned by the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation and conducted by Wilder Research.

The latest findings were issued this summer, and Nicole MartinRogers - a Wilder Foundation research scientist - noticed big differences between the 2018 survey and the new responses.

"Across most different major institutions," said MartinRogers, "the population in the East Metro overall has had a decreased level of confidence in these institutions to treat people fairly over the past three years."

That includes the news media, healthcare institutions and the criminal justice system. And there were differences among racial groups, with 45% of Black respondents agreeing state government treats everyone fairly, compared with nearly 70% of white respondents.

Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation staff say while the results aren't statewide, these are issues that are felt around Minnesota.

When it comes to significant issues, Stephanie Peterson - a learning and evaluation officer with the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation - said survey participants put crime and safety at the top of the list.

That underscores a topic that's been often debated in Minnesota, and Peterson said these overall results reflect a crucial period for the state.

"The COVID-19 pandemic and the murder of George Floyd and subsequent racial uprisings are really still reverberating," said Peterson.

The Foundation's COO Nadege Souvenir said these results aren't just a tool for her staff in serving these communities. She said they're free and accessible to anyone in need of insightful data on key topics.

"We know that in past years, nonprofits have used this, policymakers have used this in making decisions and informing some of the directions that they take," said Souvenir. "And so, certainly somebody could dig into this research for any reason, including, perhaps thinking about the midterm elections."

The latest results from the project are posted on the Foundation's website.

Disclosure: The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Education, Health Issues, Human Rights/Racial Justice, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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