Dallas/Fort Worth and Philadelphia are the Most Alienated Cities among America’s Top 10 Markets

New York , N.Y. – November 4, 2014 – A 2013 Harris Poll found Americans showing an increasing sense of alienation and explored the many factors which may play into this sentiment, including gender, generation, education, and income, among others. Now, findings using the Harris Poll® Major Market Query (MMQ) survey platform indicate that location can also be a considerable factor in how alienated Americans feel.

Based on the public’s answers to five questions, we compute the Harris Poll Alienation Index. The higher the number, the more alienated people feel – which is to say, the more likely they are to feel unable to influence people with political and economic power and to feel left out of things going on around them. This study finds that Americans in the Dallas/Fort Worth, TX and Philadelphia, PA markets show the highest scores on the Alienation Index (65 and 63, respectively, as compared to a 10-market average score of 58), meaning they feel the most alienated. Americans in the Boston, MA and NYC Metro, NY markets feel the least alienated of the 10 areas measured, with scores of 54 and 55, respectively.

These are among the findings of a Harris Poll® of 2,082 U.S. adults, ages 18 and older and living in the top 10 American markets by population (roughly 200 per market), surveyed online between October 15 and 23, 2014. Almost every year since 1966, the Harris Poll has measured how alienated Americans feel. Last year the Harris Poll Alienation Index was conducted exclusively online for the first time; this year marks the first time the study has utilized the MMQ platform, an omnibus survey offering a sample of the 10 largest metropolitan areas of the United States, to examine alienation at the market level.

Falling between the most and least alienated markets are San Francisco, CA (61); Washington, D.C. (61); Atlanta, GA (60); Los Angeles, CA (59); Houston, TX (57); and Chicago, IL (56).

Breakouts on specific attitudes

As mentioned, the Alienation Index is calculated based on responses to a series of attitudinal statements. Looking at responses to the statements individually reveals additional details as to how Americans in varied markets are feeling.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer (76% 10-city average).

  • San Franciscans (86%) are the Americans most likely – by a considerable margin – to indicate feeling that The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
  • While strong majorities agree with this sentiment across all 10 markets, the percentage feeling this way is weakest in Houston and Chicago (72% each), followed closely by those in Boston (73%) and the NYC Metro area (74%).

The people running the country don’t really care what happens to you (76% 10-city average).

  • The sentiment that The people running the country don’t really care what happens to you is strongest among those in Dallas/Fort Worth (88%), followed somewhat distantly by those in the Houston (82%), Atlanta (also 82%), and Philadelphia (81%) markets.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, Chicagoans are the group least likely to feel this way, though it’s worth noting that with a two-thirds majority affirming the sentiment (66%), most do feel this way. The next two markets least likely to feel this way are NYC Metro (71%) and Los Angeles (72%).

Most people with power try to take advantage of people like you (57% 10-city average).

  • Americans in Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles are most likely to affirm feeling that Most people in power try to take advantage of people like you, with two-thirds majorities doing so in each market (66% each). Philadelphians are not far behind, with 64% indicating the same.
  • New Yorkers are the least likely to agree with this sentiment (47%), followed by Americans in Houston (50%) and Chicago (51%).

What you think doesn’t count very much anymore (53% 10-city average).

  • The sentiment that What you think doesn’t count very much anymore runs strongest in the Dallas/Fort Worth market (61%), followed by the Philadelphia region (59%).
  • The statement gets the fewest affirmations among Americans in Boston (48%), followed by those in D.C., Houston, and the NYC Metro area (51% each).

You’re left out of things going on around you (30% 10-city average).

  • Americans in the nation’s capital (38% in Washington, D.C.) are most inclined to agree with the statement You’re left out of things going on around you, followed by those in Chicago (34%).
  • Bostonians are least likely – by a considerable margin – to affirm this sentiment (19%), followed somewhat distantly by Los Angelinos (26%).

The people in Washington are out of touch with the rest of the country (80% 10-city average). While this statement is a more recent addition to the battery, and thus is not included in the index calculation, it nonetheless paints a vivid picture of Americans’ attitude toward national leaders.

  • Dallas/Fort Worth residents (86%) are most likely to affirm feeling that The people in Washington are out of touch with the rest of the country, followed by adults in Atlanta and Philadelphia (82% each).
  • It may not come as a surprise that D.C. residents are least likely to call out those in our nation’s capital as out of touch – but with seven in ten affirming this sentiment (71%), it’s nonetheless a strong indicator of the mood even within Washington itself.

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TABLE 1

ALIENATION INDEX

The Harris Interactive Alienation Index is calculated by taking an average (mean) of those who agree with five of the six statements (see Table 2)

Base: U.S. adults

10-City Average

58

Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

65

Philadelphia, PA

63

San Francisco, CA

61

Washington, D.C.

61

Atlanta, GA

60

Los Angeles, CA

59

Houston, TX

57

Chicago, IL

56

NYC Metro, NY

55

Boston, MA

54

 


TABLE 2

ALIENATION INDEX STATEMENTS – YES, FEEL THIS WAY

Now we want to ask you about some things some people have said they have felt from time to time. Do you tend to feel that…?

Those saying Yes, feel this way

Base: U.S. adults

10-City Average

Dallas/ Fort Worth, TX

Philadelphia, PA

San Francisco, CA

Washington, D.C.

Atlanta, GA

Los Angeles, CA

Houston, TX

Chicago, IL

NYC Metro, NY

Boston, MA

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

%

76

77

78

86

78

76

78

72

72

74

73

The people running the country don’t really care what happens to you.

%

76

88

81

75

78

82

72

82

66

71

77

Most people with power try to take advantage of people like you.

%

57

66

64

63

60

59

66

50

51

47

55

What you think doesn’t count very much anymore.

%

53

61

59

55

51

52

52

51

57

51

48

You’re left out of things going on around you.

%

30

32

31

28

38

29

26

30

34

32

19

The people in Washington are out of touch with the rest of the country.

%

80

86

82

79

71

82

77

82

81

79

78

Not included in the Alienation Index


Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between October 15 and 23, 2014 among 2,082 adults (aged 18 and over) in the top 10 U.S. markets (205 in the NYC Metro area, NY; 205 in Los Angeles, CA; 210 in San Francisco, CA; 208 in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX; 209 in Houston, TX; 210 in Atlanta, GA; 211 in Chicago, IL; 208 in Boston, MA; 207 in Washington, D.C.; and 209 in Philadelphia, PA). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, these data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #100, November 4, 2014

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Managing Editor, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. For more information, or to see other recent polls, visit the Harris Poll News Room.