Voices of Austin

What sets Austin apart from everywhere else? Austinites weigh in

What sets Austin apart from everywhere else? Austinites weigh in

Austin, Texas, skyline, downtown
The 2015 Zandan Poll has revealed an interesting look at how Austinites view our own city. Ed Schipul/Flickr

For most Austinites, "Keep Austin Weird" still adequately reflects what's happening in our gem of a town. We learned that and more in the Zandan Poll, an annual survey that highlights the issues — and assets — that define our city.

The poll is conducted by Peter Zandan, a longtime Austinite with a history in marketing and research. This year 814 residents were surveyed across the greater Austin area, including Travis, Williamson, Hays, Caldwell and Bastrop counties.

The poll analyzed opinions on traditional topics like the economy, affordability and policy issues. "In addition, this year's poll [focused] on 'cultural identity,'" explains Zandan, "defined as the unique set of attributes, values and practices that characterize the city and set it apart from other places."

Unsurprisingly, traffic, affordability and population growth were major concerns. But what we found most interesting were the responses that reflect the culture of the city. 

Whose town is this anyway? 
Respondents overwhelmingly agreed Austin is a prime spot for millennials (74 percent) and singles (69 percent) over non-millennials (26 percent) and families (31 percent). The majority of respondents said the city is most suited for young adults, followed by the LGBT community, Asian Americans, young college grads and Hispanics.

What are the characteristics of an Austinite?
More than half of the Austinites surveyed said that they are laid-back, environmentally friendly, active, creative, technologically sophisticated, spiritual, innovative and liberal (in that order). They also agreed that Austin is musical, active, artistic, creative and technologically sophisticated.

Is Austin that creative?
Forty-one percent of those surveyed said our creative culture is part of the reason why our city so great. But 26 percent said that same creative culture is being pushed out by the economy and our growing population. Respondents also said the technology industry is the most important to Austin, followed by education, service industry, healthcare and entertainment.

Do our creative offerings stack up? 
Generally speaking, respondents reported contentment with the creative offerings of Austin. Sixty-seven percent were extremely satisfied with festivals like SXSW, Austin City Limits Music Festival and Fun Fun Fun Fest. Free concerts, museums, performing arts, comedy, visual arts and creative camps followed close behind. However, only 14 percent of respondents said they frequently take advantage of those offerings. 

What are the most important Austin events?
When asked to rank events based on personal importance, respondents chose Austin City Limits Music Festival first, followed by SXSW, University of Texas football games, Pecan Street Festival and ACL Live at the Moody Theater. When it comes to importance of these events to the city's cultural identity, SXSW and Austin City Limits Music Festival tied with 86 percent. UT football games, ACL Live at the Moody Theater and Pecan Street Festival follow. 

According to the Zandan Poll, the majority of Austinites are:

  • Married (48 percent)
  • Employed full-time (48 percent)
  • Democrats (45 percent)
  • Not tattooed (71 percent have no tattoos)
  • Omnivores (79 percent)
  • Home-owners (57 percent)
  • In support of legalizing same-sex marriage (55 percent)
  • In support of legalizing marijuana (52 percent)
  • In support of equipping the Austin Police Department with body cameras (82 percent)

See the rest of the 2015 Zandan Poll results here.