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Austin’s anxious optimism reflected in new poll

Allstate and the National Journal have conducted a survey of Austinites and how they feel about their city may have you itching to move to Texas.

Austin is popular, but why?

Allstate and the National Journal have conducted a survey of Austinites telling the story of a region with a culture of technological innovation and growth, coupled with a high level of optimism that makes Austin so unique from other cities. Austin-natives (Austinites), by and large identify themselves first as Texan, then as Austinites. This isn’t surprising given the amount of pride Texans seem to have not only in their state, but also in their country.

Austin is flourishing. In fact, the Austin metropolitan area is among the top five fastest growing cities in the nation (in terms of population growth), and Austinites indicated they think the reasons for this are high-tech and biotech jobs (39%), the quality of life (25%), and low taxes and fewer regulations on businesses (16%). Again, Austinites confidence in their government at the local and state levels, is really something unique.

Austinites favor local and state over federal government

Austinites attribute this growth, with an overwhelming 69% to “state and local institutions like government, businesses, and volunteer or community organizations because they are closer to the problems, are more adaptable, and have more at stake in finding solutions,” rather than “national institutions like the federal government, national businesses, and major non-profit organizations.” This shows a great deal of confidence in the Texas government and businesses innovation on the whole.

This anxious optimism was reflected again in two additional questions asked by the survey: participants were asked which approach they would prefer local institutions take when faced with challenges and opportunities: “trying new ideas and solutions, even if the outcomes may be uncertain,” or, “relying on tried and tested ideal and solutions, even if it means a lack of new thinking.” A resounding 71% of participants indicated they would prefer new ideas and solutions. Austinites believe their government should use their minds and try new solutions to problems.

Most don’t identify as R or D

Interestingly, when it comes to politics, Austinites are less likely to identify themselves as Republican or Democrat; instead, they fancy themselves independent of these parties and with 79% stating they are “very likely” to vote in 2016, presidential candidates better have a good idea of what issues matter to Texans. Strict party voting doesn’t seem to fly in Austin.

What are the biggest challenges for Austin? Traffic and other issues relating to growth was the number one response with 52%. The cost of housing and the issue of receiving a quality of education came in second and third, respectively. Relatively common interests for most large cities, I think.

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Now that you know more about Austinites, can you guess who survey takers selected as the embodiment of an Austin success story? This answer may surprise you. Are you ready for it? It’s good ol’ Willie Nelson. Honestly!

If you’re an Austinite, what do you think of the survey? If you’re not an Austinite, how do you think your hometown stacks up?


Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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