Apr 4, 2024 - News

Vanderbilt poll shows new optimism, high approval for mayor

Data: Vanderbilt University; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Vanderbilt University; Chart: Axios Visuals

Most Nashvillians now think the city is heading in the right direction, according to a new Vanderbilt University poll that suggests surging optimism among residents.

Why it matters: The annual poll results represent a dramatic swing after two consecutive years when a majority of surveyed residents said Nashville was on the wrong track. In 2023, 56% had a negative view of the city's path.

State of play: Mayor Freddie O'Connell enjoys support across the political spectrum, according to the poll. His overall approval rating is 71%.

  • That includes 56% approval among Republicans, 68% among independents and 85% among Democrats.

The big picture: Participants said O'Connell's top priorities should include reducing crime, improving education and addressing affordable housing.

  • 92% said they couldn't afford to buy a house in Davidson County.

Zoom in: 84% of respondents supported O'Connell's plan to put a transportation referendum on the ballot.

The intrigue: Newcomers have a sunnier view of Nashville, according to the poll.

  • Among Nashvillians who have been here less than five years, 62% say the city is headed in the right direction.
  • A 52% majority of longtime residents who have lived here for more than 20 years still feel the city is on the wrong track.

An 80% majority thinks the city is growing too quickly. Most residents agree, regardless of how long they've spent in Nashville.

What they're saying: "The poll shows a lot of bipartisan consensus around priorities for local officials and where the city should be going," Vanderbilt Poll co-director Josh Clinton said in a statement.

  • "We get a picture of a relatively unified city that stands in contrast to what is going on with politics and divisions we see across the rest of the country."

How it works: The latest Vanderbilt Poll was conducted March 1-21 and included 1,014 Nashville residents. The margin of error is +/- 3.8 percentage points.


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