Who approves of Danville’s city commission?

The 2011 Boyle County Exit Poll conducted on Tuesday revealed that 28.6% of Danville voters currently approve of the way that the Danville city commission is handling its job, while 57.6% disapprove and 13.8% have no opinion. This post will try to answer who approves and who disapproves. (Skip to the last two paragraphs if you want the Cliffnotes version.)

Here is a lengthy enumeration of % approve and % disapprove of Danville’s city commission broken down by a number of political and demographic groups. Unlike the previous tables I’ve presented, these are to be read side-ways. (For example, the first row shows that 72.5% of those who approve of Mayor Hunstad also approve of the city commission, while 27.5% of those who approve of the mayor disapprove of the city commission.)

Approve Disapprove
Mayor Hunstad – approve 72.5% 27.5%
Mayor Hunstad – disapprove 13.2% 86.8%
Commissioner Atkins – approve 36.2% 63.8%
Commissioner Atkins – disapprove 19.8% 80.2%
Commissioner Caudill – approve 38.2% 61.8%
Commissioner Caudill – disapprove 14.7% 85.3%
Commissioner Montgomery – approve 63.6% 36.4%
Commissioner Montgomery – disapprove 9.4% 90.6%
Commissioner Louis – approve 61.4% 38.6%
Commissioner Louis – disapprove 9.7% 90.3%
Danville is headed in the right direction 59.7% 40.3%
Danville is off on the wrong track 7.9% 92.1%
Fire Paul Stansbury – approve 57.6% 42.4%
Fire Paul Stansbury – disapprove 16.6% 83.4%
Focus development downtown 32.7% 67.3%
Focus development along the bypass 33.7% 66.3%
Merge school districts – YES 30.1% 69.9%
Merge school districts – NO 37.5% 62.5%
television/radio news outlet
NPR 24.7% 75.3%
Fox News 30.5% 69.5%
CNN 35.4% 64.6%
MSNBC 41.8% 58.2%
Local news outlets 40.7% 59.3%
ESPN 43.6% 56.4%
Tea Party – agree 38.1% 61.9%
Tea Party – disagree 28.9% 71.1%
Liberal 25.8% 74.2%
Moderate 32.8% 67.2%
Conservative 39.0% 61.0%
Democrats and leaners 30.7% 69.3%
Independents 35.8% 64.2%
Republicans and leaners 37.6% 62.4%
Age 18-29 45.6% 54.4%
Age 30-44 45.8% 54.2%
Age 45-64 25.3% 74.7%
Age 65+ 34.0% 66.0%
Income < $20K/year 30.5% 69.5%
Income $20K-$50K/year 43.1% 56.9%
Income > $50K/year 30.8% 69.2%
Female 33.3% 66.7%
Male 33.3% 66.7%
Non-Hispanic white 32.3% 67.7%
African-American 51.3% 48.7%
High school or less 33.6% 66.4%
College or some college 33.9% 66.1%
Post-graduate degree 31.1% 66.9%

Right off the bat, we see that there is a strong relationship between approval for the individual members of the city commission and approval of the law-making body overall. Those who approve of Mayor Hunstad and Commissioners Montgomery and Louis also tend strongly to approve of the commission as a whole while those who approve of Commissioners Atkins and Caudill tend strongly to disapprove. This suggests that Danville voters are indeed in tune with what goes on in the city commission meetings and either blame or reward the commission as a whole based on whether they agree with the actions of the 3-2 majority (Hunstad, Montgomery, and Louis) on controversial issues.

In other areas, it seems that Danville voters associate the performance of the commission with whether they feel Danville is “headed in the right direction” or not. Nearly 60% of those who feel Danville is moving in a positive direction approve of the commission while 92% of those who feel that Danville is “off on the wrong track” disapprove of the commission. This same pattern holds for whether voters agree or disagree with the commission’s dismissal of former city manager Paul Stansbury.

Interestingly, there does not seem to be much of an effect for whether a person prefers that economic development in Danville focus on the downtown area or the business corridor along the bypass. Each group has a nearly identical approval rating of the commission at about 33%.

We do see a definite pattern in terms of some political characteristics. The commission draws higher support from conservatives (13% higher than liberals), Republicans (7% higher than Democrats), and those who agree with the Tea Party (9% higher than those who disagree). This would seem to be confirmed by the finding that only 25% of NPR listeners approve of the commission. Interestingly, though, Fox News viewers are only 6% more likely than NPR viewers to approve of the commission, while the highest approval rating (43.6%) comes from those who get most of their news from ESPN!

We also see that some demographic characteristics matter. The commission enjoys its highest levels of support among those under age 45 (nearly 46% approve) while those over 45 are about 15-20% less likely to approve. There’s also a social class difference. Middle-class voters have the highest approval rating (43%) while lower- and upper-class approval is about 10% lower. There’s also an interesting racial divide which was examined in a previous post. Finally, there is little difference based on gender or levels of education.

In sum, to answer the original question of “who approves of Danville’s city commission”, we can answer that younger, politically conservative voters with moderate incomes (who like ESPN!) are where the commission draws most of its support. Even including these groups, however, there are no political or demographic groups that have an overall positive opinion of the commission right now (with one possible exception).

More importantly, we can also answer that Danville voters definitely see a difference between Hunstad/Montgomery/Louis and Atkins/Caudill and link their opinions of either group of commissioners and what policies they have supported to whether they approve of the commission as a whole and, more broadly, whether they feel that Danville is going in the right or wrong direction. Given that the next city commission election is now less than a year away, this is something that the four commissioners up for re-election in 2012 might want to take note of.

One response to “Who approves of Danville’s city commission?

  1. The main finding – that people do know who does what on the commission – if worth trumpeting. I hope the Advocate runs that.

    Here is my best guess on the age gap: All of the commissioners are over 45. Perhaps older people are more likely to know the commissioners personally, and have opinions about them personally (which would appear to skew to the negative for the commission majority.) Young people, by contrast, may not know the commissioners personally, and therefore be more likely to view the commission ideologically, and are drawn to the fiscally conservative talk that the mayor used in the election.

    Just a guess, though.

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