Third Least Popular? Sure.

The Enquirer points out a Pew Research Study on Social & Demographic Trends that place Cincinnati third from the bottom of a list of cities people would most like to live.

I started this post by trying to point out the flawed methodology in the study, as I usually do for negative reports.  But the methodology was pretty solid.  So I looked at the part of the phone survey that gathered data for this list of cities.  The question went like this:

As I read through the following places, just tell me your first reaction: Would you want to live in this city or its surrounding metropolitan area or NOT want to live there?

First, …[INSERT ITEM; RANDOMIZE]

READ IF NECESSARY: What’s your first reaction? Would you want to live in [INSERT ITEM] or not want to live there?
IF RESPONDENT SAYS THEY CURRENTLY LIVE IN THIS AREA, PROBE ONCE: “If you had a choice, would you want to live there, or not want to live there?”

So it really becomes a gut answer.  I say a name, you give me your first reaction.  And when I think about what my answers would be, all the superficial reputations I have for cities, good or bad, bubble to the top.

When I hear...  I immediately think of...
New York City Way cool, way hard to live there.
Cleveland Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. River caught on fire.
Dallas Hot, flat, crowded. Um, Texas.
Minneapolis Quite nice. Lakes and forests.
Orlando Hot, flat. Disneyworld. Lots of young people.
Portland Hippies wearing hemp and riding streetcars.
Sacramento Hot, flat, desert. Near Tahoe.
St. Louis Uh, they got that big arch.
Pittsburgh Very scenic. Hills and rivers.
San Diego Beach, beach, beach. First line of defense from Mexico.
Detroit Robocop.
Houston Even hotter than Dallas.
Las Vegas Desert. Water shortages. The Strip of course.
Los Angeles Way cool. Sprawling. Traffic.
San Antonio The Alamo. The Riverwalk. Um, Texas.
Philadelphia East coast, but not too east coast. Still expensive.
Phoenix Desert. Retirees.
Seattle Beautiful scenery. Lots of childless couples with dogs.
Tampa Beach. Retirees?
Washington, D.C. Lots of interesting things going on. Expensive.
Atlanta Big city. Southern hospitality.
Baltimore Inner harbor. Armpit of Washington, D.C.
Boston Scenic waterways. Lots of young people and colleges.
Chicago Scenic lakefront. Big city. Midwestern sensibilities.
Denver Mountains, mountains, mountains.
Kansas City Funny that Kansas City is not in Kansas.
Miami Expensive and pretentious. Pro athletes. Celebrities. Nice weather though.
Riverside Riverside? California? Isn't this just part of L.A.?
San Francisco Gay people. Liberal bastion. Technology.

 

I put those up very quickly. Now what about Cincinnati?  Obviously, I'm biased, but if really tried to pretend I was an outsider, what are the first things that spring to mind?  WKRP.  Rain man. Conservative.

And that's the problem we, and the likes of Detroit and Cleveland, face.  Of course, Cincinnati is a great place to live for all sorts of people.  But how would you know?   That's the work that's never finished. 

So I believe that Cincinnati might finish third from the bottom in a survey like that, even if I know it's not true. 

4 comments:

Pablo said...

It is quite clear that you have some problem with Texas, would like to know why.

Also, it is clear that you don't like hot weather and you don't mind winter and cold, since you don't put it as a negative for any of the cities that you list and that do suffer from winter.

Your impressions are quite on the mark for most cities. Although I don't like Cincinnati and specially its weather, here are my impressions if someone asks me about Cincinnati, although they are based on me living here for many years, too many for my taste: Cold, conservative, landlocked, not crowded.

gerard said...

@Pablo, thanks for commenting!

I have never spent time in Texas, save for driving back and forth across the panhandle a few times. So I don't know a thing about Texas. But if someone asked me on the spot if I would live there, I would say no.

I'm sure lots of people who have never been to Ohio do not want to live here.

My point is how can you ask random people if they would live in a particular city. They will gather what little info they know and make a snap judgement. And the snap judgement of Cincinnati is usually negative.

But, too each his own! Urbancincy has a great reaction to this study along these lines. ANd now that you point it out, I guess I do enjoy cold weather, about once a year.

gerard said...

UrbanCincy's reaction: http://www.urbancincy.com/2009/01/whose-grass-is-greenest.html

liz said...

"would you want to live there or not want to live there" = bad way to try to get the info they are looking for.

for example, for me, chicago is a cool city and i think most people would want to live there. however, i do not want to live there b/c everyone i know from college lives there and that seems boring to me.

the fact that they are not finding out what people value in a city or why they personally might or might not want to live there makes the data very suspect in my opinion.

however, either way, most people probably don't want to live in cincinnati.