City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

May 6, 2011
Political consultant Townsend surveys mayor's popularity

The mastermind behind Kevin Johnson's election as Sacramento mayor says his client is more popular with voters than his colleagues on the City Council.

Political consultant David Townsend said a poll he commissioned found half of all Sacramentans are satisfied with Johnson's performance, but fewer than 40 percent of those surveyed are satisfied with the council.

The poll was conducted by Jim Moore. Townsend was the consultant who worked on Johnson's successful 2008 mayoral run, and he continues to be one of the mayor's chief political advisers.

Johnson hasn't said for sure whether he'll seek a second term next year. And since we're several months away from campaign season, the existence of a poll concentrating on the mayor shouldn't be seen as a sign that he's launching a re-election effort just yet.

Still, there were some interesting findings.

The poll was conducted between March 22 and 28, and 450 likely November 2012 voters were interviewed.

It found that 54 percent of those asked had a favorable opinion of Johnson and 36 percent had unfavorable views. By comparison, 55 percent had favorable opinions of state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

Something to note, however, was the timing of the poll. At the time the survey was taken, even Johnson himself was saying the Kings were likely to leave Sacramento - and that there was little the city could do.

A week later, Johnson went to New York and made a pitch to the NBA to keep pro basketball in Sacramento. We soon learned the Kings are staying another year - and Johnson has been given much of the credit.

While 50 percent said they were satisfied with the mayor's overall job performance, 38 percent said they were satisfied with the performance of the City Council. The Sacramento City Unified School District got a 33 percent approval rating.

The poll also took aim at a pair of Council members who have been at odds with the mayor on some of his key issues, most notably his "strong mayor" proposals.

The survey found that 40 percent of those polled supported re-electing Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy, while 40 percent said they'd vote for someone else. Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell had the support of 42 percent of voters in her district.

On the issues, 81 percent said attention should be paid toward fixing the city's public schools and improving levees, while 80 percent also said they wanted City Hall to "live within its means" and were concerned with gangs and crime.

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at


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