Date of this Version
In 2020, the 25th annual Nebraska Rural Poll will arrive in mailboxes across the state. For 25 years, the Poll has examined many topics of concern to rural Nebraskans and accumulated a rich dataset for state and community leaders.
The Nebraska Rural Poll was first conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Agricultural Economics in 1996 under the leadership of Dr. John Allen and Dr. Sam Cordes. Each year since, 7,000 surveys are mailed to randomly selected households located in the nonmetropolitan counties of the state. The goal of the poll is to give rural Nebraskans and their leaders a better understanding of the issues, opportunities, challenges and concerns of Nebraska’s rural citizens. By understanding what issues rural Nebraskans are most concerned about and how they see the future, state and community leaders can do a better job of supporting citizens and improving the state’s quality of life. Results from the survey are released in a series of three to five reports each year, depending on the number of topics included in the questionnaire. These reports are distributed to state lawmakers, news media, local economic and community development groups as well as rural citizens. In addition, the reports are posted online where interested parties from across the globe have accessed the data. The Department of Agricultural Economics, Nebraska Extension and Nebraska Rural Futures Institute currently financially support the survey.
For 24 years, this survey has focused on topics such as agricultural policy, energy, the environment, climate change, government, crime, education, health care, housing, immigration, taxes, community development strategies, technology and work. While these important and sometimes controversial topics draw the interest of the media, another set of core questions on community and well-being provide insights about trends and changes occurring in rural Nebraska. These questions, repeated in every Poll, examine satisfaction levels with an array of community characteristics, such as infrastructure, amenities, services and leadership. Other repeated questions deal with the respondents' level of satisfaction with their current personal or household situation, including employment and income. These questions provide community leaders directions to improve life for its residents. Members of the Rural Poll team have been examining and presenting these trends to community groups to help them make sense of the data and how it affects their community or region.