A slight majority of people in the greater Houston area feel abortion is morally wrong but oppose laws restricting a woman's reproductive rights; believe gays should be able to get married; favor improved public transportation over building more highways; and believe increased immigration strengthens, rather than weakens, the country.
That's according to the latest annual Kinder Houston Area Survey, which gets all up in the business of folks living in Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery Counties. Published by Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research, the survey is the "nation's longest-running study of any metropolitan region's economy, population, life experiences, beliefs and attitudes," according to Kinder's website.
Kinder's director, Stephen L. Klineberg, writes in the preface that "Houston exemplifies, as few cities do, the remarkable trends that are refashioning the social and political landscape across all of urban America." For those of you who might be asking, "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Klineberg?" we'll show you.
-The survey was based on interviews with 839 people from Harris County, 399 from Fort Bend County, and 403 from Montgomery County.
The nine-county Houston metro region has a population of 6.2 million spread over 9,434 square miles.
Harris County's population is 4.2 million.
Fort Bend: 628,443
Surprisingly, the survey says those in the Houston-area aren't going all Chicken Little over the drop in oil prices. While the drop has caused thousands of layoffs, this has apparently only "tempered the exuberance" Houstonians were feeling about the local economy last year. The survey found that 69 percent of Harris County residents "gave positive evaluations to local job opportunities."
Everyone Agrees That Traffic Blows
Respondents in all three counties said traffic was the number one problem. Duh. But what's number two? That depends where you live. Harris and Fort Bend residents tended to worry more about crime, while those in Montgomery listed the economy as the second-biggest problem.
So how did people choose among three solutions for traffic woes?
Public transportation: 43 percent.
"Developing communities where people can live closer to where they work and shop" (sorry -- we can't stop laughing): 27 percent.
ME WANT BIGGER AND BETTER ROADS AND HIGHWAYS: 26 percent.
In Harris County, 58 percent of those interviewed said abortion was "morally wrong," but 63 percent opposed laws "that would make it more difficult for a woman to obtain an abortion. (It doesn't appear that residents in the other counties were polled on this).
Not That There's Anything Wrong With That
The number of Houston-area respondents who consider homosexuality "morally acceptable" hit 51 percent, up from 31 percent in 2005. That's a huge leap in gay-lovin' right there.
Similarly, support for gay marriage has increased -- up to 51 percent, from 43 percent in 2009, and 31 percent in 1993. (The 2014 asked residents how they felt about gays being able to adopt kids: 51 percent were in favor.)
Dyin' Ain't Much of a Livin', Boy
People in the Houston-area seem less interested in killing prisoners these days. In 2015, 56 percent favored the death penalty, down from 61 percent in 2011 and 75 percent in 1993.
"One of the sharpest distinctions among the three counties is in their predominant political ideologies," the survey states.
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Harris: 45 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican, 23 percent Independent/Other/Don't Know/
Too Freaking High to Respond
Fort Bend: 41 percent D, 41 percent R, 18 percent I/O/DK/
Montgomery: 29 percent D, 53 percent R, 18 percent I/O/DK/
You can check out the whole survey here.