Power Poll: Georgia leaders on the mayor’s race, voting law and COVID-19

In the newest Georgia Power Poll, community leaders reacted to the crowded Nov. 2 mayor’s race and two other hot topics – the state’s new election law and the ongoing battle against COVID-19. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)
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In the newest Georgia Power Poll, community leaders reacted to the crowded Nov. 2 mayor’s race and two other hot topics – the state’s new election law and the ongoing battle against COVID-19. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Community leaders across Georgia believe combatting violent crime needs to be Job 1 for Atlanta’s next mayor.

In the newest Georgia Power Poll, community leaders reacted to the crowded Nov. 2 mayor’s race and two other hot topics – the state’s new election law and the ongoing battle against COVID-19.

The poll was taken of civic, political and business leaders in Atlanta, Athens, Augusta, Columbus, Macon and Savannah from Oct. 18 to 21. It was emailed to 933 leaders, 151 or about 16% of whom responded.

The survey does not have the precision of a scientific poll and is meant only to provide insight into the thinking of influential leaders across the state.

Violent crime – which has spiked in Atlanta and other major cities – has been the overriding theme in the 14-person race to succeed Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a race that includes a comeback bid by Bottoms’ predecessor, Kasim Reed.

Earlier this month, the Atlanta City Council voted to establish an Office of Violence Reduction. And in July, Bottoms pledged to pursue a $70 million investment in plans to combat violent crime.

In the poll, participants were asked what they believe the new Atlanta mayor’s top priority should be, given the city’s role in the affairs of the entire state.

Sixty-two percent said the new mayor’s No. 1 priority needs to be lowering the rise in violent crime, while nearly 24% said it should be boosting public confidence in the competence of city government.

Less than 10% thought the priority should be addressing the persistent belief that Atlanta city hall is rife with corruption, and another roughly 5% said it should be restoring the city’s image, nationally and internationally.

Randy Lewis, managing director and co-owner of Atlanta’s Fitzpatrick & Lewis Public Relations, wrote in an email to Power Poll that he believes there’s very little to say positive about city government in Atlanta.

ExplorePrevious AJC Power Poll survey results

“The corruption in city hall has seemingly been swept under the rug. Crime is everywhere and covers the city like a giant grey cloud,” Lewis wrote. “And Buckhead, a centerpiece of the city, is struggling to get out with their lives intact. It will take a decade of doing everything right to fix Atlanta’s reputation.”

On the topic of the state’s new and controversial election law, which will be in place for next month’s vote, most poll respondents expect the new law to have little effect on voting.

About 65% of the respondents said they expect motivated voters to accept and follow the new requirements that include submitting a driver’s license number or ID document to obtain an absentee ballot.

ExploreSeptember Power Poll: Georgia leaders say COVID still a grave risk

The remaining 35% said the new regulations will have a chilling effect and will likely reduce voter turnout.

Most respondents welcomed the news of a drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, albeit some more cautiously.

About 43%, though glad to see the declines, said public health officials still need to proceed cautiously, given the pandemic’s ups and downs. About 24% said they hope the current trend signals that the worst is over and that the public can return to normal life with minimal risk. But 33% waved the caution flag as cooler weather takes hold and more people stay inside, because of the state’s low vaccination rate.

ExploreThe AJC Voters Guide to the Atlanta City Hall races

THE POLL AND RESPONSES

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Clayton County Public Schools Nurse Supervisor Cynthia Pittman works a Clayton County Public Schools COVID-19 vaccination and testing drive at G.P. Babb Middle School in Forest Park in September. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Clayton County Public Schools Nurse Supervisor Cynthia Pittman works a Clayton County Public Schools COVID-19 vaccination and testing drive at G.P. Babb Middle School in Forest Park in September. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)
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Clayton County Public Schools Nurse Supervisor Cynthia Pittman works a Clayton County Public Schools COVID-19 vaccination and testing drive at G.P. Babb Middle School in Forest Park in September. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

After a tough summer of COVD-19 illnesses and deaths driven by the delta variant, Georgia’s number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations now seems to be dropping. What do you think this indicates?

23.6% -- That the worst seems to be behind us at this point and we can continue normalizing our lives with minimal risk.

43.2% -- The drop is welcome news for this state, but public health caution is still prudent, given the pandemic’s up-and-down nature thus far.

33.1% -- Georgia’s low COVID-19 vaccination rate continues to pose risks for us as cooler weather approaches and people spend more time indoors.

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More than 60% of those polled say that crime is the top issue in the Atlanta's mayor's race. (John Spink / jspink@ajc.com

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

More than 60% of those polled say that crime is the top issue in the Atlanta's mayor's race. (John Spink / jspink@ajc.com
Caption
More than 60% of those polled say that crime is the top issue in the Atlanta's mayor's race. (John Spink / jspink@ajc.com

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

In Georgia’s capital city, the race for Atlanta mayor is at full throttle now. Given Atlanta’s large role in affairs of the entire state, what issue do you think should be Job 1 for the next mayor?

62.4% -- Lowering the rise in violent crime.

23.5% -- Boosting confidence in the competence of city government.

9.4% -- Addressing the persistent belief that significant corruption is present at City Hall.

4.7% -- Restoring the city’s luster on the national, and international, stages.

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Of those polled, nearly 65% say that Georgia's new voting requirements will have little to no effect on the upcoming elections. (Alyssa Pointer / AJC)

Credit: TNS

Of those polled, nearly 65% say that Georgia's new voting requirements will have little to no effect on the upcoming elections. (Alyssa Pointer / AJC)
Caption
Of those polled, nearly 65% say that Georgia's new voting requirements will have little to no effect on the upcoming elections. (Alyssa Pointer / AJC)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Next month’s elections will be conducted under the stipulations of Georgia’s new election law. What effect do you think new voting requirements will have in November?

64.9% -- Little to no effect, as motivated voters will take heed and follow new requirements to cast ballots.

35.1% -- The new rules will have a chilling effect and likely reduce voter turnout.

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