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.|
|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.|
|Seattle||Beautiful scenery. Lots of childless couples with dogs.|
|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.