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What Does Orange County Think?

What do Orange County residents think about the state of the local economy? And how have their opinions changed over the last two decades? UCI researchers have Web access via the UCI Libraries to more than twenty years of data from the Orange County Annual Survey to help them explore these and many other questions.

Former Professor of Urban and Regional Planning Mark Baldassare has monitored the county’s pulse annually since 1982 with his detailed survey of public opinion. Since leaving UCI for the Public Policy Institute of California in 2001, he has continued to conduct the survey (now called the Special Survey of Orange County) under a memorandum of understanding with the School of Social Ecology. Under that agreement, the raw data and associated documentation are archived at the UCI Libraries and freely available via a Web site mounted by our Social Science Data Archives

Each annual survey comprises interview responses from over 1,000 adult county residents on a wide range of county, state and national issues. Local issues include satisfaction with quality of life (e.g., traffic), finances, local government, the economy (e.g., housing costs), local public services, and other societal matters (e.g., racial attitudes). At the State level, respondents are asked how they view California’s government on issues of current interest, such as how best to resolve the current budget crisis. The survey also addresses national questions such as the overall performance of the current U.S. President, and which political party respondents trust on matters such as health care, the economy, and national security.

Utilizing the same software (Survey Documentation & Analysis) used to mount the well-known General Social Survey, researchers can enter variables of interest and create cross-tabulations based on questions asked in each annual survey to determine, for example, whether there were any gender or ethnic differences between supporters and opponents of the El Toro airport in 2002. Users also can download the entire dataset for each survey, together with associated data definition statements (in SPSS, SAS or STATA), to perform their own analyses.

The Orange County Annual Survey digital archive is another example of how the UCI Libraries are using technology to disseminate information and facilitate its use. The Social Science Data Archives encourages the secondary analysis of data for scholarly research and instructional purposes, as well as for public understanding.

For more information, contact Daniel Tsang (dtsang@uci.edu, x44978).



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