Nashville Mayor has 61% approval rating amid controversy surrounding affair, poll says

FILE PHOTO: Megan Barry (Metro Govt.)

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has a 61 percent approval rating, despite admitting to an affair, a new Vanderbilt University poll says. However, the poll was taken before reported discoveries of nude photos and deleted messages.

The poll was taken from Feb. 8 to Feb. 19, while Barry admitted the affair with former Metro Sgt. Rob Forrest on Jan. 31. After the poll was taken, court documents the TBI said they found nude photos and deleted messages on Forrest's phone. That information was made public on Feb. 22. Just after the search warrants and affidavits for Barry and Forrest's phones became public, another controversy brewed regarding the mayor's passcode. The poll was also taken before surveillance video showed Barry and Forrest entering a deserted city cemetery in the early morning.

Vanderbilt said 800 Davidson County residents were contacted by phone for the poll. Topics ranged from mass transit, to Metro General Hospital, education, affordable housing and more.

Amid controversy surrounding the affair, residents were also asked how much the mayor’s personal life impacted their view of her performance.

Vandy Poll Findings:

• Mayor Barry’s approval rating stands at 61 percent, down from last year’s 72 percent. This drop was fairly consistent across the political spectrum, as well. In 2018, her approval rating stands at 77 percent among Democrats, down from 87 percent last year. Among independents, she’s at 61 percent, compared to 66 percent last year. Among Republicans she’s at 45 percent, compared to 56 percent last year.

• Overall, 59 percent of Nashvillians believe Barry’s personal life has little or no impact on their perceptions of her job performance. Inversely, 59 percent of respondents said they believed President Trump’s personal life had a big or moderate impact.

• There were only small differences between men and women’s answers. Party mattered more – Democrats and independents were much more inclined to look past Barry’s behavior than Trump’s, while Republicans were somewhat more forgiving of the president than the mayor.

The mayor tweeted a "thank you" Tuesday to her supporters.

"Thank you to the people of Nashville for standing with me. We’ve come a long way, but still have a lot of work to do. I’ll keep fighting my heart out for you everyday. Let’s keep Nashville moving forward. #VandyPoll" - Mayor Megan Barry

“These data indicate strong public support for Mayor Barry, despite the recent revelations,” John Geer, who is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science, said. “Everyone should have expected a drop from 72 percent last year, given the controversial issues she has tackled, such as transit and the proposed changes for Nashville General. Any elected official would be very happy with a 61 percent approval rating, and there is little reason to believe the most recent news about photos and text messages would change the underlying support Nashvillians have for the mayor.”

Vanderbilt says the poll's margin is ± 4.6 percent.

A preview of the poll was released Tuesday, while the full results will be released on Sunday.

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