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Notley/Monitor Poll: Most Austinites think the city is headed in the wrong direction

Monday, July 11, 2022 by Jonathan Lee

Earlier this summer, the Austin Monitor set out to poll Austinites’ opinions on the most important issues facing the city and how well local government is addressing them. Over the course of this week, we’ll highlight what residents have told us about the city’s growth, challenges, governance and public safety.

The survey, commissioned by Notley and conducted by national pollster Change Research for the Monitor, shows that residents are generally pessimistic about where the city is headed. Out of 507 likely voters in Austin surveyed June 24-29, a majority (57 percent) think Austin is “headed in the wrong direction.” Only 18 percent of respondents said the city is moving in the right direction and 25 percent were unsure.

Respondents had an even more negative attitude toward the city’s rapid growth. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) said that Austin’s growth has been negative overall – an opinion shared by the majority of every demographic group polled. 

On both measures, younger respondents are the most sanguine. A quarter (26 percent) of respondents 18-34 years old think Austin is headed in the right direction – a higher share than any other age group. Fifty-four percent of younger voters believe growth has been bad, less than nearly all other demographic groups. Republicans are more pessimistic than Democrats on growth and on the city’s overall trajectory.

The poll is weighted by age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, ZIP code and 2020 presidential vote to achieve a representative sample of likely voters. 

We also asked people how the city should manage growth, given five options. Thirty-four percent of respondents think “preserving the character of existing neighborhoods” should be the biggest priority. This was the top choice for nearly all demographic groups. 

Twenty percent said it should be “easier and cheaper to develop and re-develop property”; 16 percent think the city should help protect the environment “by requiring greener building methods”; 15 percent want to see “denser, more complete neighborhoods throughout the city”; and 7 percent said “increasing the amount of housing in and around downtown” is most important.

Below are the results to the same question, parsed out by age:

Other surveys from the past several years, put alongside the Notley/Monitor Poll, indicate residents are increasingly pessimistic about the city’s future. 

An early 2020 survey (conducted before Covid-19 became widespread) by local pollster Peter Zandan revealed a more optimistic outlook on the city’s trajectory, with 47 percent of respondents saying the city was on the wrong track versus 39 percent who said the city was heading down the right track. A 2017 poll by Zandan indicated still more optimism: 52 percent of respondents thought the city was heading in a good direction compared to 35 percent who thought it was heading in a bad direction.

Stay tuned; we’ll be publishing more results from the poll throughout the week. 

In a poll commissioned by Notley for the Austin Monitor, Change Research surveyed 507 likely voters in Austin, Texas, from June 24-29, 2022. The modeled margin of error for the survey is 4.7 percent, which uses effective sample sizes that adjust for the design effect of weighting. Complete survey results and methodology can be found here.

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here. This story has been changed since publication to clarify the name of the poll. 

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