KUHF-11 News Poll: Houstonians Optimistic About the Future

Despite the sluggish economy, job losses and uncertainty about the future of oil drilling in the Gulf —
Houstonians feel optimistic about the direction the city is headed. That’s according to the KUHF-11
News survey — which polled Houston voters on a variety of topics. Laurie Johnson has more.


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(Deep in the Heart of Texas song).

There’s a lot of civic pride attached to living in Texas. Native Texans will tell you it doesn’t matter how hot and humid the summers are, or how big the cockroaches get, this is the best place to live. Where else can you go and see bumper stickers bragging “I wasn’t born here, but got here as fast as I could”?

So it might be easy to chalk up Houstonians’ optimism simply to their love and pride of place.

But Rice University Political Science Professor Bob Stein says there are legitimate reasons 65 percent of Houston voters think the city is headed in the right direction.

“Some of this is borne out — unemployment, foreclosures, housing values, in migration — all of these conditions are much better in Houston and Harris County than they are in the state and, for that matter, in the nation. So maybe what we’re seeing here are voters who can see the reality. They’re seeing people come here for jobs. They’re seeing individual home values, if not appreciating, not declining rapidly. What they’re seeing is very few foreclosures like you’ve seen in states like Nevada or the midwest.”

Stein polled 500 registered voters for the KUHF-11 News Survey. Although the  majority of people said they think Houston is headed in the right direction, just 45 percent were optimistic about Texas. Even fewer feel good about the direction of the nation.

“Almost 50 percent believe the next 12 months the finances of this city will get better. And again, that doesn’t track with the national or even state numbers, they’re substantially higher and I think that tells you a great deal. Only 15 percent see the economy in Houston getting worse. The vast majority, 85 (percent), see it as either staying as it is (or getting better). And almost 50 percent believe it’s getting better. That kind of optimism is matched by the fact that for most people the current financial situation, compared to a year ago, is no worse.”

“I’ve seen the downturn in the late 70’s and early 90’s. This was the worst one, of course, that I’ve seen and I’ve been here a long time.”

That’s a Houston businessman you may never have seen, but who owns one of the city’s most enduring icons. Tony Vallone has opened a number of restaurants, but his signature spot, Tony’s, has been a Houston destination for 45 years.

“I think Houston is the most underrated city in the world. We have so much going for ourselves. But also if you look at the numbers, we’re really not that far off as compared to other major cities. We’re the fourth largest city in the country. We seem to be very entreperneurial. We’re much more diverse; we’re not just oil dependent. I think Houston will do well. I think Houston will do very well.”

In fact, Houston is ranked number three in job growth among metropolitan statistical areas. The city has more manufacturing jobs than any city in the United States and more than Dallas, Ft. Worth and San Antonio combined.

And maybe all that blue-collar power is what’s keeping our outlook so sunny and bright.

(Deep in the Heart of Texas song).

Laurie Johnson. KUHF News.

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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

News Director

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez leads news coverage for Houston Public Media across broadcast and digital platforms. Ramirez is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Before becoming News Director, Ramirez held the position of Executive Producer for Daily News, leading daily and breaking news coverage, helping...

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