- His personal approval ratings are similar to former Mayor Bart Peterson prior to the property tax revolt of 2007 but if the election were held today, Ballard would likely only win by the same margin as last time.
- The mayor does very well on the issue crime, and nearly as well on taxes.
- On leadership, he gets strong approval from Republicans, moderate Democrats and Independents tend to split and liberal Democrats give him his lowest approval numbers.
- He gets strong marks from about a third of the African-American population.
- Jobs and the economy are the biggest issue.
- On the CIB, most voters think the matter should be addressed because of the importance of protecting jobs, however they are more supportive of a hotel tax than they are a ticket tax to solve the funding issue.
- Most voters see him as competent and a good man, but he doesn’t connect emotionally with them.
I have no doubt that such an internal poll exists and that the Abdul's conclusions about what the polls say are accurate. I also believe the poll deserves as much credibility as President Clinton when he said he didn't inhale.
This is a tactic straight out of Politics 101 handbook. An incumbent goes out and commissions a positive poll and then uses it to ward off rivals in his own party and to raise money. There are many ways you can rig a poll, but the number #1 way is to fashion the wording of poll questions to get a preordained result. For example consider the two questions:
"Given that cigarettes kill millions of people a year, should more regulations be enacted to decrease the number of deaths from smoking?"
"Do you think that more cigarette smoking regulations should be enacted?
Both questions could deal with the exact same policy, yet the poll result would likely be dramatically different. Advocacy groups have known this about polls for some time and they use polls not only to advocate their cause, but for fund raising purposes. So do political candidates.
The supposed Ballard poll result defies common sense. Given the publicity he's received the last year, does anyone seriously believe that people view him as a "strong leader" and "competent." The notion that he's as popular as Mayor Peterson prior to his tax raising fiascos before the election, well that is just laughable.
My political instincts are not as accurate as a quality poll done by an independent pollster, but I would certainly stack that political instinct up to the Ballard internal poll. Here are my conclusions.
- Ballard's best issue is crime, followed by charter schools.
- One of his worst issues for the Mayor is taxes. People see him as someone who has spent his time in office fighting for higher taxes.
- He is slightly more popular with African-Americans than most Republicans in the county, but not significantly so.
- He is seen as incompetent and the common perception is that the job is too big for him.
- Ballard's biggest political problem is with his Republican base, a significant percentage of which will defect in a general election if he runs for re-election. I doubt he would get 70% of the GOP vote in a general election and that doesn't even address the number of Republicans so fed up with the Mayor that they're likely not to vote.
- People see the CIB bailout (quite correctly) as being about raising taxes because of excessive subsidies for professional sports.
- The CIB bailout is not an insider issue, but would be a major voting issue come 2011, especially if Ballard continues to fight for tax increases for the bailout. The taxpayers see those tax increases (quite correctly) as being for excessive giveaways to professional sports teams.
- The public does not make subtle distinction between different types of taxes. All they are hearing is that the Mayor is trying to raise taxes which triggers a very negative reaction.
I do have some interest in running in 2011 in the Republican Primary if Ballard decides to run for re-election. Republicans need someone who cares more about taxpayers and the common man and woman who lives in this city, rather than the corporate elites Ballard has exclusively catered to since his election. If we Republicans renominate Ballard, disaster is on the horizon for my party in 2011, not just for the Mayor, but for Council Republicans. That decision though is a ways off. I don't know where I'll be at that point in my life going into the middle and late 2010. Given the Mayor's unpopularity within the GOP, there may be other Republicans step up as well if Ballard wants to run for re-election. I can tell you though, I am not in the least bit dissuaded in my decision by some claim that Ballard, despite all public appearances, is actually quite popular and perceived as a strong leader. I was born at night. I just wasn't born last night.