University Poll Reveals Rural Nebraskans Less Optimistic about the Future, Compared to Urban Nebraskans

Dec. 20, 2021, 11:11 a.m. ·

two large grain bins sit behind a used care shop in Central City, NE
The 2023 Rural Poll shows political divisions are serious concerns for rural Nebraskans. (Photo by Grant Gerlock, Nebraska Public Media News/Harvest Public Media)

A poll that measures how Nebraskans feel about the future shows city residents are more optimistic than rural residents.

The 26th Nebraska Rural Poll from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was paired with a metropolitan poll this year. The results indicate that in the next decade urban residents believe they’ll be better off 55% of the time, while only 47% of rural residents answered this way.

Becky Vogt,. the poll’s manager, said COVID-19 did not negatively impact people’s feedback about the future as much as she anticipated.

“Where I think it maybe did come into play is when we asked residents if they feel that people are powerless to control their own lives,” Vogt said. “This year we saw an increase in rural Nebraskans that agreed with that statement that feel that people are powerless.”

Rural residents answered that they feel this way 32% of the time compared to 23% of metro Nebraskans.

More than 1,500 rural Nebraskans completed the survey, and about 1,300 residents responded to the Nebraska Metro Poll. They were asked about pandemic experience, health, community and trust in institutions and the media.