Friday, March 16, 2007

Mayor: How am I doing?

Former mayor Ed Koch of New York was famous for asking city residents, "How am I doing?" Current Denver mayor John Hickenlooper has just done the same, albeit in a bit more rigorous and scientifically-valid method.

He spent nearly $25,000 to hire The Kenney Group, a large political consulting firm, to poll city residents on their feelings.

Their reactions were summarized in a news article this morning by Rocky Mountain News political reporter Daniel Chacon entitled "Hickenlooper Weathers Storms."

The centerpiece of the discussion was the mayor's handling of the snowstorm, which "found that 66 percent of voters rated Denver's performance managing snow removal as excellent, good or fair." While I'm sure that number is acccurate, the fact that The Kenney Group felt the need to lump together all three categories suggests a very high percentage of "good" or "fair" responses.

More pertinent excerpts from the article are included below:
When asked about the May election, 49 percent of respondents said they would definitely vote for Hickenlooper.

"The honeymoon may be over," Kenney said, "but the marriage is off to a very good start."

The mayor's approval rating is 84 percent - 10 percentage points higher than Gov. Bill Ritter, according to the survey.

"The mayor continues to have an astounding relationship with the voters of Denver," Kenney said. "I've not quite ever seen a number like this. Almost half have a 'very favorable' rating."

Hickenlooper, who said he hadn't yet seen the results of the poll, said he doesn't know why he connects well with voters.

"We've always tried to tell the truth, and when we've made mistakes, we've tried to work harder to correct them," he said. "I think that's what most people try to do and maybe that connects with people in some way."

Kenney, who often works for Democratic candidates, said his firm convened two focus groups in conjunction with the poll.

He said they viewed Hickenlooper as "an everyday guy."

"He's viewed as somebody they could invite over to their house or have a beer with," Kenney said.

Among the findings:

• 68 percent believe "things in Denver are generally headed in the right direction."

• 14 percent said education and schools are the most important issues facing Denver.

• 55 percent feel their quality of life is about the same as it was four years ago while 24 percent say it's much or somewhat better.

• 59 percent think local taxes are "about right" compared with the services they receive.

• 62 percent rate Denver's economy as fairly strong, but 43 percent said it's very or somewhat difficult to keep up with their bills.

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