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Notley/Monitor Poll: The need for local leadership and deeper understanding 

Friday, February 17, 2023 by Joel Gross

In the second installment of our Notley/Monitor poll series, commissioned by Notley and conducted by national pollster Change Research, Austinites clearly expressed the desire for stronger local leadership and show areas where they are divided and unsure of how to proceed. 

A majority of Austinites (53 percent) do not believe that City Council cares about the issues that impact residents. A mere 5 percent strongly agree that Council does care and any way you slice it – age, sex, ethnicity, education and party identification – the respondents who agreed with this statement never reached a majority level. 

When it comes to public safety, half of voters feel safe and 53 percent believe there are not enough police officers. A higher majority (55 percent) want to see more enforcement of the ban on public camping. And when it comes to the police union contract negotiations, the need to ensure accountability and transparency when police officers are involved in a shooting or accused of improper conduct was by far considered the most important aspect (72 percent of respondents). 

When it comes to major issues like homelessness and housing, voters showed greater division and uncertainty. Respondents were widely divided on the primary cause of homelessness, with no option receiving more than 33 percent. On the housing front, no clear-cut majorities emerged on questions related to affordable housing production, mandatory parking requirements, compatibility standards and specific density corridors. Additionally, in each of these questions, 10 percent or more of respondents answered “not sure,” speaking to the complexity of this signature issue.  

Oftentimes, local polling is confined to specific candidates and is conducted in the lead-up to an election. The community might hear about some top-level finding, but much of the data is kept internal. 

This initiative is designed to be different. This is the second installment in our Notley/Monitor Austin Issues poll series where we focus on the issues and share the data and our findings back with the community. The objective is not to shape an individual candidate’s message, but rather to help our readers gain a deeper understanding of and form a stronger connection to their community. 

One of the greatest challenges in our current shared information space is the relentless push to reduce news and information into shorter sound bites and social media posts. Put another way, it’s really hard to tell longer and more nuanced stories these days.

The data in the poll is not a sound bite (we encourage you to explore and take a deeper look) but an entry point. Many of these issues have long histories and overlap with each other. This poll series and the broader work of the Austin Monitor is designed to go against the sound-bite trend and to keep covering, reporting and going deeper on these important stories. 

Photo by Bas.van.winden, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

In a poll commissioned by Notley for the Austin MonitorChange Research surveyed 429 voters in Austin, Texas, from Jan. 28-Feb. 1, 2023, using a sample reflective of the electorate. Post-stratification weighting was performed on age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, ZIP code, and 2020 presidential vote, with weighting parameters based on voter file data and election results based on numbers released by the Texas Secretary of State. The modeled margin of error for the survey is 5.3 percent. Complete survey results and methodology are available 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.

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