Two-thirds of Seattle voters polled have ‘actively considered’ leaving the city, according to survey

Apr 11, 2022, 4:17 PM


(Robert Ashworth via flickr)

(Robert Ashworth via flickr)

Seattle voters have grown even more frustrated with the state of the city over the past several months, with 67-percent of voters surveyed admitting they had actively thought about leaving the city.


The bulk of them feel Seattle is headed in the wrong direction and most no longer trust the city to spend their tax dollars wisely.

That’s the gist of the second installment of the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce sponsored survey The Index. The first was conducted in August and showed voters’ top concern was homelessness.

‘Tough’ decisions as county authority, Seattle diverge over approach to downtown homeless camps

That remains the same in this second survey, which also saw a significant increase in voters worried about the second top issue in the March poll – public safety.

The Index is a research project measuring quality of life over time by asking registered Seattle voters about the region’s most pressing issues, including homelessness, public safety, affordability, and downtown Seattle’s recovery.

Among the major findings in this second installment is a dramatic increase in the number of voters concerned about public safety with more than half of registered voters in the citywide survey mentioning that issue as a concern. There was also an increase in concern about affordability compared to the August survey.

“The voice of Seattle voters is crystal clear: we are united on the most pressing issues, we are united on the solutions, and we are united in our need to address them with urgency,” said Rachel Smith, president and CEO of the Seattle Metro Chamber. “While some of the numbers in this research are tough to see, I have a great deal of optimism because the voters have laid out a clear path, one that rejects ideological binaries and embraces an ‘and’ approach to solutions. One that centers our values and will enhance our quality of life here for everyone. And one that the Seattle Metro Chamber is ready to get to work on.”

Some key findings from the new installment of The Index:

  • When asked about the issues facing Seattle that voters are most frustrated or concerned about, the number of voters citing crime/drugs/public safety grew by 17 points since Index 1 in August 2021, from 28 to 46 percent.
  • When asked if voters have actively considered moving out of Seattle, the number of “yes” responses grew by 7 percent since August (67 percent total), and public safety is the second most-cited reason, following the expensive cost of living and cost of housing in the city.
  • Now, 91 percent of Seattle voters say Downtown Seattle cannot fully recover until the homelessness crisis and public safety problems are addressed.
  • There is near-universal agreement on expanding state and regional partnerships to address homelessness, and on investing more in behavioral health
  • Voters strongly preferred providing outreach when closing encampments to a blanket just stop the sweeps approach.
  • An increasing number of voters say they would not feel safe visiting downtown both during the day and at night, and three-quarters say their own neighborhood feels less safe compared to two years ago.
  • The top five issues voters say would have the biggest impact on improving quality of life mirror their top concerns. Three of those top-fives are public safety-related: addressing violent crime, gun violence, property crime, and public safety concerns facing local businesses. The other two are removing tent encampments and maintaining bridges and infrastructure.
  • Workers continue to support increased density with near-universal support for making it easier to build housing and transit and commercial areas
  • A supermajority support more housing in their neighborhood and changing regulations to support more density and single-family home zones.
  • Most voters are concerned about downtown’s future and concern has increased.
  • Voters continue to overwhelmingly agree that downtown is important to the region’s economic recovery and that addressing homelessness and public safety issues is essential for downtown to recover.
  • The majority of voters say they will visit downtown less often for non-work activities than they did pre-pandemic, and that percentage has increased since the August 2021 index.
  • Voters do not trust the City Council on police reform, and they strongly prefer an approach that includes fundamental reform and hiring more officers rather than defunding and decriminalizing non-violent misdemeanors

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Two-thirds of Seattle voters polled have ‘actively considered’ leaving the city, according to survey