In the midst of a crisis, who we trust and what information they share with us will shape our mindset, approach and response to the crisis.
As a result of COVID-19, the most historically trusted professions are reaping benefits of their status. This august group includes teachers, doctors and scientists., We’ve seen how Dr. Anthony Stephen Fauci, an immunologist who positions himself as both a scientist and a physician, calmed the turbulent seas of uncertainty with an unfailing bedside manner.
However, these trusted professions were out-maneuvered by professions with a high level of distrust: state and federal officials, journalists and lawyers.
When New Mexico’s stay-at-home order was issued in March 2020, all industries were impacted, regardless of whether they were deemed essential or nonessential. During this time, residents leaned in with concern for small businesses and for the farm and ranch industry. They were also more vocal in their support of local banks and teachers than they were of major business corporations.
In times of crisis, we lean heavier on the opinions of those people we trust and the industries we favor.
This blog post features an excerpt of The 2020 GPS overview of New Mexican’s Favorability of Industries and Institutions:
It should come as no surprise that small business is the most favored industry/institution in New Mexico. Small business has been atop the Garrity Perception Survey since its inception in 2011.
In the wake of COVID-19, small business is getting a lion's share of attention and reaping goodwill. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program program was designed to help small business. However, large companies took advantage of what critics in hindsight call a poorly constructed relief effort. This resulted in a fierce localized protectionism of small business (read Closer Look: Small Business on page 6).
New Mexicans were asked to rate their impression of various industries and institutions using a five-point scale where a score of five is very favorable and a score of one is very unfavorable.
Overall, small businesses are viewed the most positively by New Mexicans, with 79 percent having a favorable opinion (receiving a rating of a four or five on a five-point scale), followed closely by the farming and ranching industry at 77 percent. Seven in 10 residents also say they have a favorable opinion of the film and motion picture industry, which has expanded rapidly in the state in the past decade.
When it comes to educational institutions, New Mexico’s community colleges (70%) and state universities (61%) are rated favorably by the majority of state residents. In comparison, less than half (41%) have a favorable opinion of New Mexico’s public schools. Twenty-eight percent of residents have a negative opinion of public schools.
Residents are much more likely to have a favorable impression of local banks (67%) than they are to have a favorable impression of national banks (39%), though it should be noted that favorability for both local and national banks has improved when compared to the 2017 study.
As has been observed in previous studies, the solar and wind industry tends to be viewed more favorably than other energy or extractive industries. However, public opinion of both the oil and gas industry and the mining industry has improved over the past three years. Approximately two-thirds (64%) of New Mexico residents have a positive opinion of the solar and wind industry, while 57 percent have a favorable opinion of the oil and gas industry. In comparison, 38 percent have a favorable opinion of the mining industry.
Over the past three years there has been a 16 percentage point increase in the number of residents who view the oil and gas industry positively, rising from 41 percent in 2017 to 57 percent currently, while the percentage of residents who have a favorable opinion of the mining industry has increased from 27 percent to 38 percent. The improved public perception of the oil and gas industry is no doubt tied to an increase in oil and gas production and revenues, which have helped boost the New Mexico economy.
The majority of residents (55%) say they have a favorable opinion of the commercial construction industry, while 50 percent have a favorable opinion of major business corporations. The plurality of residents (44%) say they have a favorable opinion of the medical system; however, 29 percent have an unfavorable opinion of the medical system.
Residents are polarized when it comes to the courts and justice system. Thirty percent have a favorable impression of the courts and justice system, while 33 percent have an unfavorable opinion, and 33 percent have a neutral or mixed opinion, which is consistent with previous studies.