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Likely voters give mayor’s job performance high marks

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque voters are giving Mayor Tim Keller high marks for his first 10 months in office, according to a new Journal Poll.

The poll shows 61 percent of likely voters in Albuquerque approve of Keller’s job performance, while only 16 percent disapprove. The rest have mixed feelings, don’t know or wouldn’t say.

Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., which conducted the poll, said that ratio of approval to disapproval is “a very good ratio for any elected official.”

“He is in a honeymoon period,” Sanderoff said. “He’s been in office for less than a year, but regardless, these are very good numbers. A mayor can get into trouble with voters pretty fast, but we’re finding that’s not the case here.”

Mayor Tim Keller

In his first months in office, Keller has proposed programs addressing the city’s crime rate and other challenges through his “One Albuquerque” initiative. His agenda has included plans for spurring economic development, promoting volunteerism, reducing the number of homeless people in the city and increasing recreational opportunities for youths. Residents have yet to see whether those programs will yield results.

For the poll, 319 likely voters were asked: “Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way Tim Keller is handling his job as mayor of Albuquerque?”

The poll also shows that Keller maintains similar approval ratings across different genders, ethnicities, age groups and education levels.

Keller’s approval rate is 60 percent among men, with disapproval at 17 percent, and 63 percent among women, with 16 percent disapproval.

Among Hispanic respondents, Keller’s approval rate is 59 percent, with 18 percent disapproving of his performance. His approval rate among Anglo voters is 63 percent, with 15 percent disapproval.

Respondents with a high school diploma or less gave Keller a 53 percent approval rate and 24 percent disapproval, according to the poll. He has a 54 percent approval rate among college graduates, and a 71 percent approval rate among respondents with graduate degrees.

“For elected officials, oftentimes you find big differences between men and women or Anglos and Hispanics, younger people to older people or people with different education attainment levels,” Sanderoff said. “Generally, across the board, we’re seeing a broad base of support, regardless of one’s gender, race, age and, to an extent, education attainment level.”

Not surprising in this era of political polarization, the survey shows that Keller’s performance is more highly rated by Democrats than Republicans and independents. Keller is a Democrat, though Albuquerque city government is technically nonpartisan and party labels don’t appear on the ballot.

The mayor’s performance approval rating among Democrats is 76 percent, with disapproval at 7 percent, according to the poll. He has 40 percent approval among Republicans, with 33 percent disapproval. His approval rating is 58 percent among independents, with 11 percent saying in the poll they disapprove of his performance.

Keller served as the Democratic state auditor from 2015 to 2017 and was a Democratic member of the New Mexico Senate, representing District 17 in the International District from 2009 to 2014.

“He’s off to a good start, with high approval ratings,” Sanderoff said. “This mayor has remained quite visible in his first 10 months in office. Oftentimes, you see him holding press conferences throughout the city. He has a strong presence on television, trying to get his message across regarding his policy initiatives.”

Some mayors take a back-seat approach or stay behind the scenes, Sanderoff said, but not Keller.

“This mayor is out there, upfront, getting his share of publicity, trying to get across his message of what his political policy agenda is for the city,” he said. “That appears to be paying off.”

About the poll

The Journal Poll is based on a scientific sample of 319 registered voters who cast ballots in the 2014 and 2016 general elections, and said they were very likely to vote in this year’s election.

The poll was conducted Sept. 7-13. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.4 percentage points. The margin of error grows for subsamples.

All interviews were conducted by live, professional interviewers, with multiple callbacks to households that did not initially answer the phone.

Both cellphone numbers (67 percent) and landlines (33 percent) of proven general election voters were used.