Majority of NOLA Residents Approve of Mayor's Response to Katrina

by Joseph Carroll

Blacks much more likely than whites to approve of job done by local leaders

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A majority of current New Orleans residents say they approve of the job mayor Ray Nagin did in responding to the effects of Hurricane Katrina, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. Residents also have a positive view of how the city's police handled the situation, but are much more critical of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, President George W. Bush, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Most residents are not offended by Nagin's recent statement that New Orleans should be rebuilt as a "chocolate city." A majority of residents also express confidence that the votes in the city's mayoral election in April will be accurately cast and counted, and half say they will definitely vote or might consider voting for Nagin.

The poll, conducted Feb. 18-26, interviewed a random sample of adults currently living in New Orleans. Respondents were contacted on landline telephones and cellular telephones, since many areas of the city still do not have working telephone service in their homes more than almost six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.

Approval Ratings

When asked whether they approve or disapprove of the way five government leaders or organizations handled the response to the effects of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans residents give the most positive ratings to the city's mayor and the city's police. Fifty-four percent of New Orleans residents say they approve of Nagin's response to the hurricane, and half say they approve of the New Orleans police. Residents are much more negative in their other assessments, giving the state's governor, Blanco, a 33% approval rating, Bush a 23% rating, and FEMA a 22% rating.

White and black residents vary significantly in their responses to this question.

Approval Ratings by Race
Feb. 18-26, 2006
(percentage who approve)

Whites

Blacks

%

%

The New Orleans police

57

40

Mayor Ray Nagin

47

59

President George W. Bush

28

13

Governor Kathleen Blanco

24

41

FEMA

19

24

  • Out of the five leaders or organizations listed, black residents are most positive in their ratings of Nagin, and most negative in their views of Bush. White residents, meanwhile, rate the city's police at the top of the list and FEMA at the bottom.
  • Blacks are much more positive than whites in their ratings of their leaders in Louisiana. Nearly 6 in 10 blacks approve of Nagin, while whites are divided in their view of the mayor (47% approval vs. 49% disapproval). Forty-one percent of blacks approve of Blanco, compared with only 24% of whites.
  • Whites are more likely than blacks to approve of the police (57% vs. 40%, respectively) and Bush (28% vs. 13%).

"Chocolate City"

In a speech at the New Orleans City Hall on Monday, January 16, 2006, to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., Nagin said, "It's time for us to rebuild a New Orleans, the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans. And I don't care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day."

The poll asked current New Orleans residents to describe their reaction to Nagin's controversial statement. Only about one-third of the respondents (35%) say they were offended by his statement, while the rest say they were not offended. This includes 53% who believe Nagin could have chosen his words more carefully but were not offended by his remarks, and 10% who believe Nagin did not say anything wrong.

Whites are substantially more likely than blacks to say Nagin's statement was offensive. A slim majority of whites, 52%, say they were offended by the "chocolate city" remarks, while 42% say they were not offended but think he could have said it better and 5% say Nagin did not say anything wrong. This compares with 17% of blacks who say they were offended, 66% who were not offended, and 16% who think Nagin did not say anything wrong.

April 22 Election

Next month, New Orleans citizens will be able to cast their votes in the city's mayoral election. The election will present challenges to the city, since many eligible voters have left New Orleans and are now living in other areas of Louisiana or in other states. In addition to the problem of displaced voters, corruption is always a concern in New Orleans politics.

The poll asked current New Orleans residents how confident they are that the votes in this election will be accurately cast and counted. A majority of these residents, 55%, say they are at least somewhat confident that the votes for mayor in the upcoming election will be accurately cast and counted, including 22% who are "very confident." Forty-four percent are not confident.

Even though a majority of current residents approve of Nagin's response to the hurricane, there has been sufficient criticism of his response to encourage many prominent New Orleanians to challenge him for the mayoralty. The poll asked current New Orleans residents their thoughts on voting for five of the candidates in the race.

Mayoral Election Vote Considerations
Feb. 18-26, 2006
(sorted by percent "will definitely vote for")


Will definitely vote for

Might consider voting for

Will definitely not vote for

%

%

Mayor Ray Nagin

19

31

44

Lieutenant Governor, Mitch Landrieu

18

45

29

President of the Audobon Institute, Ron Forman

12

43

35

Former City Councilwoman, Peggy Wilson

7

23

62

Minister, Tom Watson

4

20

63

Half of current New Orleans residents say they might consider voting for Nagin in the mayoral elections, including 19% who say they will definitely vote for him. Forty-four percent of current residents say they will definitely not vote for him. The fact that Nagin registers high on the positive and negative ends of this scale is a reflection of his higher visibility compared with other candidates.

At this point, Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu and Ron Forman, president of the Audobon Institute, appear to be formidable challengers to Nagin. A majority of current New Orleans residents say they might consider voting for them, or will definitely vote for them. Former City Councilwoman Peggy Wilson and minister Tom Watson fare the worst of the five candidates mentioned in the poll, with more than 6 in 10 residents saying they will definitely not vote for them.

These results should not be considered a projection of the upcoming vote. Because the poll only includes current residents, and does not measure the intentions of residents who are not currently living in New Orleans who are still eligible to vote in this election, the poll does not sample the entire New Orleans electorate. Additionally, the poll makes no attempt to determine which of the poll respondents are likely to vote and which are not, a crucial factor in trying to predict election outcomes.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 804 adults, aged 18 and older, who are currently living in the city of New Orleans, conducted Feb. 18-26, 2006. For results based on the total sample of current New Orleans residents, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Respondents were contacted on land line telephones and cellular telephones. The sample was weighted to adjust for the respondents' probability of being selected into the sample based on the number of working telephone lines they have and the number of people who use each of those lines.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

21. Do you approve or disapprove of the job -- [RANDOM ORDER] -- did in responding to the effects of Hurricane Katrina?

2006 Feb 18-26
(sorted by "approve")


Approve


Disapprove


No opinion

%

%

Mayor Ray Nagin

54

43

3

The New Orleans police

50

45

5

Governor Kathleen Blanco

33

63

4

President George W. Bush

23

75

2

FEMA

22

77

2

29. As you may know, there is an election for mayor scheduled for April 22. How confident are you that the votes for mayor will be accurately cast and counted in this year's election -- very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not confident at all?


Very confident


Somewhat confident


Not too confident

Not confident
at all


No
opinion

2006 Feb 18-26

22%

33

25

19

1

30. For each of the following candidates for mayor, please tell me whether you will definitely vote for that person, whether you might consider voting for that person, or whether you will definitely not vote for that person. How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?



2006 Feb 18-26
(sorted by "will definitely vote for")


Will definitely vote for

Might consider voting for

Will definitely not vote for



CAN'T
SAY
(vol.)



No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

Mayor Ray Nagin

19

31

44

4

2

Lieutenant Governor, Mitch Landrieu

18

45

29

6

2

President of the Audobon Institute, Ron Forman

12

43

35

8

2

Former City Councilwoman, Peggy Wilson

7

23

62

5

2

Minister, Tom Watson

4

20

63

11

2

31. As you may know, Ray Nagin said that New Orleans should be rebuilt as a "chocolate city." How would you describe your reaction to his statement? Would you say -- [ROTATED: you were offended by what he said, you were not offended by what he said, but think he could have said it better, or you didn't think he said anything wrong]?



Offended

Not offended,
could have
said it
better

Didn't say
anything
wrong


No
opinion

2006 Feb 18-26

35%

53

10

1

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/21709/majority-nola-residents-approve-mayors-response-katrina.aspx
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