May 21, 2024 - Politics

Poll: Denver Mayor Mike Johnston, city council underwater at one-year mark

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston announced plans to create a Department of Neighborhood Safety during a press conference outside in the parking lot of the Park Hill Boys and Girls Club in Denver, Colorado on May 13, 2024. Photo: RJ Sangosti/Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston announced plans to create a Department of Neighborhood Safety during a press conference outside in the parking lot of the Park Hill Boys and Girls Club in Denver, Colorado on May 13, 2024. Photo: RJ Sangosti/Denver Post via Getty Images

One year into his term, Denver voters are souring on Mayor Mike Johnston.

Why it matters: A new Magellan Strategies poll serves as a one-year report card for the new mayor and reveals the depth of voter frustration in Denver amid the migrant and homelessness crisis.

State of play: The poll shows Johnston's approval rating at 43%, well below the 55% of voters who elected him in June and lower than his 46% rating in August.

  • Half of voters disapprove of his performance to date with another 7% undecided, according to the survey, which was paid for by the city council.

By the numbers: 55% of survey respondents believe Denver is on the wrong track, while 42% say it's on the right track, according to the online poll, which has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

The bar chart displays the job approval ratings for Denver officials, with Mayor Mike Johnston at 43.3%, followed by the City Council at 35.7%, Clerk Paul Lopez at 33%, and Auditor Tim O'Brien at 28.2%, based on a survey of 1,595 general election voters in Colorado conducted in March 2024.
Data: Magellan Strategies; Note: Margin of error is +/- 2.45 percentage points; Chart: John Frank/Axios

The intrigue: In a presentation about the early May survey's findings, city council noted voter concerns about the "priorities of the current administration" and the feeling that resources are being misallocated in regard to the influx of migrants, crime and homelessness.

  • "There is a widespread desire for change among respondents, with many expressing a desire for new leadership and fresh ideas to address the city's challenges," the polling memo stated.

Yes, but: The anger is not just pointed at the mayor. The city council's approval rating is just 36% with 49% disapproving.

  • Clerk Paul Lopez and Auditor Tim O'Brien posted higher approval than disapproval numbers but more than 40% of voters were undecided on their tenures.

Between the lines: The council commissioned the poll to gauge voter opinions for shorter term limits, reducing them from three terms (12 years) to two terms (8 years).

  • 74% support two terms for the mayor and city council, meaning the language may make it to the November ballot.
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