This year's Kinder Houston Area Survey is out, and it reveals some the most consequential changes in attitude among Harris County residents in the survey's 40-year history.
Stephen Klineberg, founding director of Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research, says this year's results were driven mainly by the COVID pandemic, lockdowns and other life-altering policies put in place over the past year.
“Public health has never been a big issue. It's been one or two percentage points, spontaneously saying. We ask them what's the biggest problem in Houston, spontaneously talked about health, one-fourth of all the responses were about public health this year. It's just a dramatic transformation.”
There was also a major shift in personal finance and economic outlook.
“Asking about how have things been for you? And there for the first time, more people said things are getting worse instead of things are getting better. That's the first time in 40 years that we found that.”
Klineberg says Houston's demographics make it one of the most diverse cities in the world and serves as a predictor of where the rest of the country is eventually headed. Views on race relations, inequality, the economy, all the way down to religion and politics reveal just how partisan the U.S. has become.
“After the Biden election and the defeat of Donald Trump, 50% drop in the percent of Republicans saying we're heading for better times, and a 20% increase among Democrats saying we're headed for better times,” says Klineberg. “A reminder of a partisan split and why it is so difficult to get bipartisan agreement on things.”
With many staying home over the past year, traffic was only a priority for 13% of respondents, down from 30% a year ago. Fourteen percent cited crime as the most important issue.