* Public Opinion Surveying

Valley Vision and Sacramento State's Institute for Social Research (ISR) launched a new scientific public polling series in 2017 to collect opinions of Sacramento region residents. Surveys are fielded on a variety of topics to gauge regional attitudes on important issues and the information is used to craft policy recommendations to help ensure that regional priorities reflect public values, interests and needs. The research series -- sponsored by Sierra Health Foundation and Western Health Advantage -- is as a powerful new tool that Valley Vision will leverage to inform regional decision-making and catalyze community conversation.

What is the goal?

The goal is to engage the public in deeper conversations about issues that are important to them, to generate greater understanding of the most pressing issues facing our region, to use engagement tools to drive data-driven policy changes and other priority actions in the region, and to provide intelligence and resources to the region that can inform community partners, agencies, and regional leaders.

Why is this important?

This is important because the insight gained will increase understanding of public values, priorities, practices, and opinions, and the information will provide decision-makers and regional leaders with important scientific data to make better and more informed regional policy decisions.

Through the scientific survey mechanism that ISR provides, Valley Vision can now collect and analyze public opinion research on pressing issues in the region, communicate the findings we uncover and draw awareness and action to issues and trends that may not otherwise be detected, but are vital.

The gathering of regional attitudes through this new polling series is unique and the first poll of its type for the Sacramento region. There is no entity consistently monitoring the pulse of public opinion on important policy and social issues in our region.  Prominent survey organizations do not regularly conduct local or metro-level opinion surveys, primarily because commissioning data collection is costly. Additionally, the ability to gauge public opinion has greatly diminished in recent years due to increased use of cellular phones and a significant rise in consumer surveying. 

What is Valley Vision doing about it?

Over the span of two decades Valley Vision has mastered quantitative and qualitative research techniques including key informant interviews, focus groups, literature reviews, best practice case studies, and small and large group surveys.  This work has focused primarily on garnering input from key leaders and community stakeholders rather than the general public.  Through this partnership with ISR, Valley Vision is now uniquely positioned to be the region’s resource for timely and relevant public opinion research using a respected polling platform. 

Valley Vision’s reputation as an independent researcher is now expanded to new stakeholder groups by teaming with ISR, which uses proven scientific research methodologies that they have deployed successfully at the state level. Valley Vision’s local lens provides a specialized, in-depth regional platform that is based on our keen knowledge about relevant and pressing issues. The data gathered at the community level greatly increases the region’s ability to make data-driven decisions and provides a gateway for additional and meaningful community engagement.  

How does it work?

ISR has built a survey “panel” consisting of up to 2,000 pre-qualified respondents spanning a geography of eight counties surrounding California's Capital City. The panel assures immediate access to a responsive, representative sample of residents in the region. Valley Vision develops the survey topics based on our unique insight into regional issues.  Panelists may participate in up to six surveys a year. 

What type of issues will the polling series test?

The inaugural poll was conducted in April 2017 on regional attitudes related to civic and cultural amenities. Future polls could gauge opinions on topics such as public transit and mobility, workforce and education needs, homelessness and housing issues, water reliability and access, healthcare disparities, social equity impacts related to concentrated poverty, and more.

The first survey measured public attitudes regarding civic and cultural amenities in the Capital Region and was conducted in Sacramento County and specific zip codes in Yolo, Placer, and El Dorado counties. The survey measured five sets of preferences:

  • General attitudes about the importance of cultural and recreational amenities
  • Preferences regarding the region’s current amenities
  • Individual access to and use of the region’s amenities
  • Preferences regarding potential amenities being planned
  • Willingness to invest in different types of amenities

Findings and recommendations are forthcoming. Two more polls are planned in 2017.

How does this effort affect triple-bottom-line objectives?

Economy: Surveys will cover a broad set of topics, including querying about economic issues. Public opinion of economic investment priorities and others can help policy-makers understand where investments should take place and/or whether economic policy changes are likely to well received.

Environment: The environment, including the built environment, affects the public’s day-to-day experience and impacts a wide range of priorities. Understanding public opinion on environmental matters can help policy-makers understand where investments should take place and/or whether environmental policy changes are likely to be well received.

Equity: Understanding the ways in which resources and services are distributed in the region, and the public’s perception of a wide range of issues related to equity, is a key component of the surveying. Because this is a representative survey, it allows Valley Vision to engage with populations that can be difficult to reach in other ways.


Valley Vision and ISR initiated our partnership in late 2016. The research series launched in April 2017. Valley Vision and ISR will conduct multiple public opinion surveys each year.

The first poll came in with a sample of about 900 survey respondents. Some top findings included:

  • Generally speaking, 91% of Sacramento area residents consider civic and cultural amenities important to their personal well-being and quality of life, with Democrats and women expressing even greater enthusiasm than men.
  • Similarly, 94% consider amenities important for the image of Sacramento to people living outside the region. Again, Democrats and women tend to feel more strongly than men about this.
  • A smaller but still large percentage (80%) consider amenities important for attracting businesses to the region – more among women and those of lower socioeconomic status
  • Not surprisingly, then, 91% support greater public investment in such amenities, especially Democrats, those who are younger and those of lower socioeconomic status
  • Most Sacramentans (again, especially Democrats) would pay a small tax, annually, to pay for more amenities – especially those of higher socioeconomic status.  But support falls steadily as the amount increases.

More results and recommendations are forthcoming.

Sacramento State's Institute for Social Research

Sierra Health Foundation and Western Health Advantage