Mayor Mitch Landrieu elicits strong opinions from New Orleans voters but a new WWL-TV/New Orleans Advocate poll shows that overall, voters approve of the job the mayor is doing in his final year in office.
According to the poll, which was conducted by Dr. Ron Faucheux of Clarus Research Group, 57 percent of voters approve of his performance, compared to 36 percent who disapprove.
“It's higher than most previous mayors have had at this stage of the game,” Faucheux said.
Faucheux says like most public officials, Landrieu doesn't fare as well when voters are asked to rate his handling of specific issues. While the poll shows an overwhelming number of voters say crime is the city's number one problem, only 43 percent approve of the mayor’s efforts to fight it, compared to 42 percent who disapprove.
But, when broken down by race, it depends on whom you talk to. Most white voters (57 percent) disapprove of Landrieu's crimefighting efforts while most black voters surveyed (53 percent) approve of them. 32 percent of white voters approved of the mayor’s handling of crime, while 30 percent of black voters disapproved.
There's more agreement when it comes to drainage and the mayor’s handling of the Sewerage and Water Board crisis. Overall, only 36 percent approve of the mayor's performance versus 53 percent who don’t. Regardless of race, more people disapprove of Landrieu's handling of the city's water woes than approve. The breakdown for white voters was 30 percent approve/62 percent disapprove. Among black voters, 41 percent approved, while 46 percent disapproved.
“His worst issue at this stage of the game is flooding and drainage and his second worst issue is crime,” Faucheux said.
The mayor scored higher on matters involving managing city government and bringing jobs to the city, with a majority approving the way in which he's handled both.
“Interestingly, of all the issues that we looked at, he received his highest approval rating on what he did on the Confederate monuments,” Landrieu said.
55 percent of New Orleans voters said they approve of that move, compared to 38 percent who don't. But like crime, the numbers varied widely depending on race. 72 percent of African-Americans opposed Landrieu's efforts, but only 35 percent of whites did.
How will that issue or any of the others shape Landrieu’s legacy? Faucheux, a former state lawmaker who ran for mayor in 1982 against Mayor Ernest "Dutch" Morial, says it's too early to tell or even contemplate.
“I don't think we can judge this mayor's legacy or any other until they leave office and look at it from the rearview mirror.”
The poll has a margin of error of 4.38 percentage points. It was taken Sept. 25-27 and surveyed 500 likely registered Orleans Parish voters.