A new poll suggested Wednesday that a slight majority of registered New Orleans voters support recalling Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
Fifty-five percent of those polled said they favor ousting the mayor in the automated ‘robopoll’, which was conducted from August 30 to September 1 and has a margin of error of 4.8% . A further 37% said Cantrell should remain in office and 8% said they were undecided, according to findings released Wednesday by Edgewater Research and My People Vote.
The recall organizers must collect 53,000 signatures from registered voters in Orleans Parish by Ash Wednesday to put the question on the ballot. And while the poll suggested widespread frustration with the mayor’s performance, having just over 50% in favor of a recall indicates the effort remains an uphill battle.
Cantrell’s camp acknowledged that voters are concerned about the city’s direction, but questioned whether the poll missed black and Democratic voters because it only contacted residents with landlines. The poll also didn’t tell respondents how a recall would work, said Maggie Carroll, who was Cantrell’s campaign manager.
Ed Chervenak of Edgewater Research, a longtime pollster, defended the methodology, saying it had been carefully adjusted to match the city’s electorate.
“If they look at the voter registration data, they’ll find that’s where the numbers are,” Chervenak said.
The poll largely followed an earlier survey conducted by a separate company in June, which found Cantrell’s approval numbers were plunging months after his second term.
Since then, Cantrell may have compounded his political troubles by making two overseas trips to France and Switzerland, and almost flying to Singapore before changing course to “integrate” into the police department of New Orleans.
Some supporters saw his NOPD roll call speeches and a series of budget town halls in all five city council districts as a sign of course correction by the mayor. If so, the mayor’s new strategy has yet to yield political dividends, according to the poll.
Chervenak, who attended one of the town halls, said it felt more like a “state of the city” address than a traditional town hall. However, he still thinks the mayor has a chance to change perceptions, perhaps thanks to the recent hiring of a trio of consultants to advise the New Orleans Police Department.
“We’ll have to see what happens with this nomination from New York for the police department, if that has any effect,” Chervenak said. “Those carjackings, those shootings – that more than anything are driving those numbers.”
The investigation revealed gender and racial differences in support of the recall. Only 49% of men versus 60% of women support a recall, and 53% of blacks versus 63% of whites support a recall, according to the poll.
A silver lining for Cantrell is that a significantly higher percentage of voters, 65%, think the city is on the wrong track than those willing to back his recall. This suggests that a significant portion of the electorate separates Cantrell’s leadership from the city’s woes.
In his statement, Carroll said voters were “very clearly frustrated.”
“Mayor Cantrell understands these concerns – and she shares them,” Carroll said. “That’s why she held public meetings in every council district and at District D and E Public Safety Town Halls. She works every day to keep people safe and move the city forward.”