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Wednesday, November 23, 2005
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Survey says honesty matters to potential voters

ATHENS, Ohio (Nov. 23, 2005) -- Honesty is not only the best policy -- it is good politics. That's the finding of the Ohio Survey, a statewide phone survey conducted by an Ohio University political communication class. Students questioned 566 randomly selected Ohio adults to find which characteristics were most important in an ideal candidate for governor. The survey, which also asked about additional political issues such as taxes, education and gas prices, revealed that honesty led the list.

Students, calling from the Scripps Survey Research Center, found that 87 percent of respondents agreed strongly that honesty was an important characteristic for an ideal candidate. A related attribute, trustworthy, was second with 85 percent strongly agreeing it was important. Relatively few respondents agreed strongly that being a political outsider, having political experience, being aggressive or being successful were important characteristics for the ideal governor.

Jerry Miller, director of the political communications certificate program and an associate professor, said he intends to make the Ohio Survey annual.

"With next fall's Ohio gubernatorial race a wide-open affair, this venture promises to gain in stature and significance," Miller said.

The survey also revealed that the top three issues of importance to citizens of Ohio were K-12 education (67 percent rated it as an important issue), price of gasoline (65 percent) and health care (65 percent). According to respondents, 61 percent indicated that funding for K-12 education should be increased, but only 40 percent felt that K-12 education was an important priority of the Ohio Legislature.

As far as gasoline prices, 61 percent indicated that the cost of gas has affected their driving habits, but only 45 percent supported any government regulation on size and gas consumption of SUVs and cars.

Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed said they would not be upset if there were a smoking ban in public areas and 63 percent of those surveyed indicated they would be happy if their city adopted a smoking ban in public places. Margin of error for the survey is 5 percent.

The project gave students an opportunity to understand first-hand how to conduct survey research and assess the outcomes. They each chose political topics that were most important to them and wrote a series of questions about those topics. Ninety questions were chosen for the survey, conducted between Oct. 23 and Nov. 3.

"We were also hoping that this would serve the purpose of getting issues of concern out," Miller said. "We want to generate information because Ohio is a focus of attention."

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Media Contact: Associate Professor Jerry Miller, (740) 593-4831 or millerj5@ohio.edu, or Media Assistant Jessica Stark, (740) 597-2938 or starkj@ohio.edu

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