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.)
|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
|Local news outlets||40.7%||59.3%|
|Tea Party – agree||38.1%||61.9%|
|Tea Party – disagree||28.9%||71.1%|
|Democrats and leaners||30.7%||69.3%|
|Republicans and leaners||37.6%||62.4%|
|Income < $20K/year||30.5%||69.5%|
|Income > $50K/year||30.8%||69.2%|
|High school or less||33.6%||66.4%|
|College or some college||33.9%||66.1%|
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.