Rice-run poll: Houstonians favor term limits for elected officials, but willing to modify them

Jun 28, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Houstonians support term limits for the city's elected officials, but are willing to change the length of those limits, according to a new poll conducted by Rice University and its Center for Civic Engagement.

More than half of the respondents favored keeping the current limit of three two-year terms for Houston officials. However, after hearing a series of related questions on the effects of term limits, that support dropped to 39 percent. Only a tiny segment of Houstonians (2 percent) favored eliminating term limits altogether.

Following a 1991 referendum, Houston set the lifetime limit of three two-year terms for its elected officials, including the mayor, controller and all the members of city council.

The poll is based on interviews with 501 registered voters in Houston between April 26 and May 3. It has an error rate of plus or minus 4.5 percent. The survey was conducted for the City of Houston Term Limits Review Commission.

After initial questions on their support for term limits, poll respondents were presented with arguments for and against term limits and asked if they agreed or disagreed with each one. For example, 84 percent of Houstonians agreed that "term limits ensure that we'll get new people with fresh ideas coming into city office." But 61 percent also agreed that "with term limits forcing elected city officials out of office after a maximum of six years, and special interests now have too much power and influence at City Hall."

After answering questions on the strengths and weaknesses of term limits, the proportion of people who favored modifying the limit to two four-year terms rose from 24 percent to 36 percent. "This support for changing term limits prevails in spite of the fact that an overwhelming majority of voters support term limits, and their support of term limits is intense," said Robert Stein, Rice's Lena Gohlman Fox Professor of , who oversaw the poll.

Explore further: More than half of biology majors are women, yet gender gaps remain in science classrooms

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

California reacts to sturgeon decline

Mar 22, 2006

California officials, having enacted emergency fishing rules to protect sturgeon, are considering long-term rules to become effective next year.

Houston: The face of America in the next 20 years

Apr 27, 2009

Houston is a reflection of where most of America's cities will be in the next 20 years, according to Stephen Klineberg, Rice University sociologist and director of the annual Houston Area Survey.

Recommended for you

Modern population boom traced to pre-industrial roots

12 hours ago

The foundation of the human population explosion, commonly attributed to a sudden surge in industrialization and public health during the 18th and 19th centuries, was actually laid as far back as 2,000 years ...

Researcher looks at the future of higher education

12 hours ago

Most forecasts about the future of higher education have focused on how the institutions themselves will be affected – including the possibility of less demand for classes on campus and fewer tenured faculty members as ...

Now we know why it's so hard to deceive children

13 hours ago

Daily interactions require bargaining, be it for food, money or even making plans. These situations inevitably lead to a conflict of interest as both parties seek to maximise their gains. To deal with them, ...

User comments : 0