NEW ORLEANS (AP) - More than halfway into her first year as New Orleans' mayor, LaToya Cantrell has approval from 57 percent of voters polled by the University of New Orleans for its 2018 Quality of Life survey, released Wednesday.
The periodic survey measures voter attitudes in New Orleans and in neighboring Jefferson Parish and, as usual, found that satisfaction was higher in the suburb than in the city. Ninety-one percent of respondents in Jefferson said they were satisfied with life in their parish, compared to 70 percent in New Orleans.
"This difference is what we would expect when comparing a lower income city with a more middle income suburb," the report from the UNO Survey Research Center said.
But the report said there were signs of optimism among New Orleans voters. For instance, the number saying crime is the city's top problem dropped to 35 percent from 49 percent two years ago. In Jefferson, 25 percent of respondents named crime as the top problem.
"The last eight years have been a high point of satisfaction with life in New Orleans," the report said. "In the five surveys conducted since 2009, the average percent satisfied is 70%. It appears that people are relatively optimistic about life in the city."
Still, another measure of optimism has slipped. In this year's survey, 44 percent of New Orleans voters said they believe New Orleans will become a better place to live over the next five years. That's down from 46 percent in the last UNO poll in 2016, and from 59 percent in 2012.
Five hundred people were interviewed in each parish for the survey, conducted under the direction of political science Prof. Ed Chervenak, between Oct. 17 and Nov. 5. The sampling error in each parish was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
The survey, which has been taken roughly every other year since 1986, holds a trove of information on attitudes toward elected officials and the issues they face in New Orleans and Jefferson.
The first woman to win the office of mayor in New Orleans' 300-year history "appears to be experiencing a 'honeymoon' with voters," the survey report sat. Her approval rating of 57 percent is a bit below the 60 percent voter share she received in the November runoff election that led to her inauguration as mayor in May.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE-NEW ORLEANS
Police chief Michael Harrison, selected initially by former Mayor Mitch Landrieu and kept in place by Cantrell, has approval from 56 percent of voters surveyed - down from 62 percent in 2016 but still a majority. He fares better in the poll than District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, whose 42 percent rating dropped 13 percentage points over two years. Even lower in public opinion are the city's criminal courts. Fifty-three percent disapprove of the job criminal courts are doing.
The man with perhaps the highest profile job in Jefferson Parish, Sheriff Joe Lopinto, has approval ratings of more than 75 percent. The parish council's approval ratings are about 64 percent. Despite having to weather a scandal, Parish President Mike Yenni has a 60 percent approval rating - down from 71 percent two years ago.
Yenni enjoys majority approval among most age groups. "However, less than a majority of 35 to 44 year-old respondents report that they approve of Yenni. His less than stellar ratings with this age group may be the result of Yenni admitting that he sent inappropriate text messages to a 17-year-old student in 2016," the report said.