September 22, 2023 10:00am

Power Poll Political Post-Its

In which we talk O’Connell, Ogles, your favorite issues, and more

Photo of Bruce Dobie
Nashville, TN Correspondent

We asked Power Poll Nashville members: Why did Freddie O’Connell win?

This is what they said:

O’Connell was elected mayor because of his deep understanding of Metro Government and voters' confidence that he could best fix our problems. In second place, Power Poll members felt like his progressive ideology paired up nicely with Nashville’s increasingly liberal voting base.

Not nearly as important to his election? His opposition to the Titans stadium deal did not rank highly among members. Nor did his vow to keep people from moving out of the city.

At the outset of this new mayoral administration, we also asked Power Poll members in this September survey to rank their main concerns. Education topped the list, followed by transit, affordable housing, law and order, and, in last place, economic development.

In other questions:

• Power Poll members were asked if they think it likely that O’Connell will get together in the next 60 days for a face-to-face with state House Speaker Cameron Sexton. Overwhelmingly, members do.

• Most Power Poll members who identify as Democrats say they would help financially, or cross over and vote in a Republican primary, to help unseat Fifth District U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles. As to whether a Democrat can win that seat, most Power Poll members say that isn’t likely to happen.

• Finally, when Power Poll members are asked to predict if the beleaguered Ogles will be reelected in 2024, most respondents say they just don’t know. The clear second place answer though? He will be.

Here are the specific questions and answers to this most recent Power Poll. (And a quick shout-out to our Early-Bird Respondents—an award given to this survey’s first three respondents. They were consultant Robert Sprayberry, school board member John Little, and political consultant Brian Cordova, who all responded within two minutes of us hitting the send button.)

CONTEXT I: Getting Ready for Freddie

Once again, a crowded mayoral race resulted in a runoff featuring the two candidates on the far left and far right sides of the dial. The candidates in the middle got squeezed and took votes from one another. In the end, in a reprise of Megan Barry’s election in 2015, the candidate furthest to the left won.

A number of Power Pollers shared similar observations in our comments section. “Nashville’s runoff format and the large number of candidates resulted in a large number of candidates splitting the vote in the political middle,” observed Andrew W. Byrd, Jr., president of TVV Capital. Or as Alexia Poe, with The Ingram Group put it: “While there were candidates that split votes, the current landscape of the electorate is to vote for clear-cut extremes.”

O’Connell ran a great marathon and sprinted across the tape. His clear-headed and rational answers to questions about our city’s myriad problems were always direct and solution-oriented. He didn’t get partisan when talking about trash pickup, or transit, or neighborhood parks. He just talked about making these things work.

Voters could feel his fix-it vision. And they liked it.

Going forward, O’Connell would be advised to pluck a quick and easy solution out of a hat; Nashville yearns for some checkmarks on the to-do list. O’Connell is an untested executive, with virtually no management record. Progress right now would do him a world of good and remind us how healthy communities function. So, Freddie, grab a shovel, fill in a pot hole, and declare victory.

Power Pollers don’t appear to be much different from anyone else when it comes to what they want O’Connell focused on. From the issues basket of education, transit, affordable housing, economic development and law and order, it was only natural that economic development placed last given that we’re already on fire. And the fact that law and order placed fourth diminishes the argument somewhat that Nashville has become a Fort Apache on the Cumberland.

As to something O’Connell may already be working on, Power Poll members do believe he will take quick action to get together with House Speaker Sexton. Within the next 60 days, members forecast a get-together. One can hope.

Finally, this factoid: Power Poll members predicted the election would shake out at 62% O’Connell and 38% Rolli. Close indeed! It was 64-36.

Context II:

The next election cycle in our lives will be state and national, which will include the presumed reelection bid of Ogles. Many Nashvillians still have a bitter taste in their mouths after the Legislature cut up our fifth congressional district like a pizza, ran beloved Jim Cooper out of office, and conveniently eliminated a Democrat from representing Tennessee in Congress. Replacing Cooper was the ultra-conservative Ogles, whom even many long-term Republicans here have difficulty liking.

As Townes Duncan, a man with some serious Republican history, wrote in Comments, “Ogles is an embarrassment. The old 5th District was a sensible geographic community and it generally elected sensible representatives. At least non-crazy ones. This new gerrymandered 5th District is a monument to the triumph of the political will to power over every other consideration. So we get a doofus whose Christmas card is his family impersonating an LA street gang. Spirit of the Season indeed.”

Power Poll survey results were fascinating as regards to Ogles.

First of all, it would appear that electing a Democrat to that congressional seat is not likely, members say. But second, Democratic Power Poll members who live in Nashville say they would help elect a Republican challenger to Ogles. They say they would give a Republican challenger money, or crossover and vote for the challenger.

But finally, it all may be a foregone conclusion. More members say he’s going to get reelected anyway.

Thus do the winds blow.

Power Poll Members: Do you have a friend or colleague who should be on Power Poll? Please invite them to join!

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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