Power Poll: Area leaders upbeat about 2021

Credit: Stephen B. Morton for The Atlanta Journal Constitution

Credit: Stephen B. Morton for The Atlanta Journal Constitution

New COVID-19 vaccine and political change offer hope for gaining ground on the pandemic and reducing partisan divides, survey respondents say.

With the year quickly coming to an end, most metro Atlanta community leaders are feeling upbeat about 2021 – largely due to the prospects of a successful COVID-19 vaccine and a Joe Biden presidency.

More than 86% of respondents to the latest Atlanta Power Poll say they feel optimistic as they head into the new year. Forty-one percent credit that to progress on the vaccine, and 23 % attribute it to Biden’s election.

The poll is part of a nationwide survey that asks community leaders for their opinions on important local issues – including life after what most people believe has been one of the worst years in memory, with a pandemic, an economic tailspin, and the bitter political divide.

ExploreRead more AJC Power Poll surveys

The latest survey was taken Monday through Thursday (closing Dec. 17). It was sent via email to 606 metro Atlanta business, political, and community leaders.

The survey does not have the precision of a scientific poll and is only meant to provide some insight into the thinking of metro Atlanta leaders, 117 or 19% of whom responded.

Twelve percent of the survey’s respondents said 2021 cannot be worse than 2020, something that was reflected in emails to Power Poll from Thomas Noonan, founding partner in TechOperators, and others.

“Adios 2020,” Noonan wrote. “You won’t be missed at all.”

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

In the survey, respondents were asked about issues that are contributing to their optimistic attitudes about 2021. While the virus vaccination and Biden’s election ranked first and second, the potential for political stability rated most important with 12%. Only a small fraction (2.6%) said the economy was a driver in their attitudes, and less than 1 % said the prospects for racial reconciliation was a factor.

When asked about other issues affecting their positive outlook, respondents most often mentioned family and health.

Most also said they have plans to turn over a new leaf or be a better person in 2021.

“How do you answer, ‘No,’ to the question about plans to be a better person?” said Jack Hall, head of the Walker School.

ExploreAJC November Power Poll: Society’s divisions today are cause for concern


Julia Bernath, president of the Fulton County Board of Education: “I am hopeful that the new administration will usher in a time of political stability and that the distribution of the COVID vaccine will help to curb the spread of the virus. We still need to remain diligent in taking proper safety precautions, but I look forward to the day (and may it come soon) that I can freely hug my children, my grandchildren, and my friends. I wish for you all a joyous, restful, and safe holiday season.”

Linda Bryant, vice president of the Fulton County Board of Education: “2021 has to be better than 2020.”

Glenn Stephens, Gwinnett County administrator: “Gwinnett County is positioned well for the global recovery that will begin in 2021.”

Nick Masino, president and CEO, Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce: “I look forward to a year of returning to work, the hospitality industry rebuilding and a year with less political rhetoric from both extremes.”

Dean Trevelino, principal with Trevelino/Keller: “I’m heading into 2021, not with the optimism that 2021 will be the 2020 we never had. But I can see the advantages of time and distance from the worst year in America since the Great Depression and the Swine Flu. 2021 is the year we must choose to minimize all that set us back in 2020 -- pandemic, political divisiveness, small business turmoil, economic uncertainty. These mighty barriers will not go away on their own but minimizing their impact on 2021 is a choice we can make.”

Kelly Walsh, Decatur City commissioner: “The incoming Democratic administration coupled with a successful rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine is the one-two punch our country needs to start down the road to recovery and to re-engineering our democracy.”

Lisa M. Borders, former president of the Women’s National Basketball Association: “Collective, collaborative and constant positive actions are key to our mutual progress.”

Larry Johnson, DeKalb County commissioner: “I always live by you always have something to look forward to and the best is yet to come. We can’t go nowhere but up.”



Do you feel positive about what’s coming in 2021?

Yes — 86.3%

No — 13.7%

Which of these topics/areas do you feel most optimistic about in 2021? Pick 3.

Family — score: 2.40

Jobs outlook — score: 1.59

Health — score: 2.13

Finances — score: 1.57

Politics — score: 1.98

Education — score: 1.35

News — score: 0.92

Which of these topics makes you hopeful about the future?

President-elect Joe Biden — 23.1%

Potential for general political stability — 12%

Racial reconciliation — 0.9%

Economy — 2.6%

General optimism — 8.6%

Can’t get worse or be worse than 2020 — 12%

Prospect of COVID-19 vaccination — 41%

Do you have plans to turn over a new leaf or be a better person with the new year?

Yes — 73.5%

No — 26.5%