The following findings were produced as part of Embold Research’s Omnibusthe only vehicle for hyper-affordable, bite-sized opinion research in Boise.  

TO: Interested Parties

FROM: Julia Slisz, Embold Research

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Residents of Boise are split in their opinions on the state of COVID-19, and have little trust in local government’s ability to do what is right when it comes to managing the pandemic, according to a recent survey. The survey that fielded in mid-May reveals that over one-quarter of Boise adults report they are very unlikely to get a COVID-19 vaccine, despite Ada County outperforming the majority of the state in vaccination rates. And, while two-thirds feel at least somewhat safe travelling on a bus, train or plane, still 43% say they would feel unsafe attending a concert or sporting event.

Half (53%) of Boiseans express serious concerns about COVID-19, 30% expressing very serious concerns, with large gaps based on vaccination status. Of those who had already been vaccinated or say they are very likely to at the time of answering the survey, 71% express serious concerns, compared to just 26% of those who are unsure if they will get the vaccine, and 5% who say they almost certainly will not. Hispanic residents are slightly less likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine (30% unlikely, compared to 25% of white residents). This is despite Hispanic respondents being 10 points more seriously concerned about COVID-19 (62% to 52%), reflecting previously reported racial disparities in COVID-19 cases and vaccination rates among the Hispanic population in Idaho.  


Of those who said they were very unlikely to get vaccinated, 205 survey respondents answered an open-ended question asking why. The most common reason is that the vaccine is “too new” or “not thoroughly tested.” Many others express concerns about both short and long term side effects, and others that the COVID-19 vaccines that have been produced are not actually vaccines.

Although just 16% of these responses directly reference a lack of trust, distrust in the government, pharmaceutical companies, and the media is a common sentiment among many who say they won’t get vaccinated. This compliments responses on trust in the local and national news media, as well as the federal government, which is significantly lower for those who are very unlikely to get vaccinated.

Majorities report feeling at least somewhat safe doing regular activities like taking public transit or attending a large concert or sporting event. Following the trend from a national survey conducted in March, those already vaccinated or very likely to be express the most concern about these activities. Women report 12 points more serious concern than men on COVID-19 in general (59% to 47%), and are more likely to report feeling unsafe partaking in these activities.

When asked about how funds from the American Rescue Plan’s local funds should be used in Boise, the top priorities are providing aid directly to residents and to small businesses. These are the top two responses for every demographic, beating out providing aid to local nonprofit organizations, providing additional pay to essential workers, investing in water and sewer infrastructure, and investing in broadband infrastructure. When posed with a more general question about short-term versus long-term investments, responses are split with 48% preferring short-term aid, in order to reduce the negative impact of the pandemic now, and 52% opting for long-term investments, in order to make the eventual recovery stronger and faster. Proponents of long-term investments include men (56%), 18 to 34 year olds (56%), those with a college degree (60%), and people of color (63%).

This is Part 2 of a three-part series on public opinion and trust in Boise. The subsequent release will examine social and institutional trust.

Embold Research surveyed 924 adults online in Boise and Garden City between May 7–12, 2021. The modeled margin of error is 3.4%. Respondents were recruited to an online survey instrument via Dynamic Online Sampling, and post-stratification was done on age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, geography according to ACS 2015–19 five-year estimates of demographics of Boise and Garden City. Comparisons are to a national survey of 941 adults across the United States between March 18–30, 2021.

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Embold Research is the nonpartisan, nonpolitical division of Change Research. Our methodology and polling have been featured in: