Just over a year ago, our fellow Pittsburgh residents elected a new mayor, former City Councilman Bill Peduto. Peduto swept into office as something of an outsider to the old school Democratic political machine that had dominated the city for decades. His progressive brand of politics and policy represented a new frontier for a relatively conservative town. It sold well during the campaign – but how would it be received in practice?
In early October, we used our platform to gauge Peduto’s approval rating among 2,850 residents of our Pittsburgh Metro Area (*). When weighted to represent the Census population figures for the region, here is what we found:
There are a lot of numbers to look at here but the key ones tell us 38% of respondents have a positive opinion of the Mayor, while 23% have a negative opinion, and 40% are either neutral or unsure. If we streamline these numbers to match the standard “approval rating” methodology used by Gallup and others, we could toss out the neutral respondents and recalculate, using only the Approve/Disapprove numbers. That gives us 1,071 respondents with a positive opinion and 653 with a negative one – putting Peduto’s Approval Rating at an impressive 62% (1,071/1,724). Consider that President Obama’s rating has never been higher than 45% this year.
These numbers are a far cry from another batch we studied, namely, the approval score of former Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. If we look back at Ravenstahl’s last full year as Mayor (2012), we find a total of 12,166 (approx. 1,000/month) respondents who answered our approval question in that year. Here’s what they showed:
Clearly, Peduto is operating at a higher level of support than his predecessor was two years ago. 22% of respondents had a positive view of Ravenstahl versus 42% who had a negative one. When looking at “strongly approve” numbers, we see that Ravenstahl scored at less than half of Peduto’s. It’s also worth noting that with a few years in office under Ravenstahl’s belt, far fewer respondents were unsure.
When we apply the Approval Rating model to these numbers, we find that Ravenstahl achieved an aggregate Approval Rating of just 34% (2,632/7,734). Not very pretty.
It looks like Mayor Peduto is off to a great start since being inaugurated earlier this year. And it’s indisputable that local residents view Peduto as a major improvement over his predecessor. As die-hard Pittsburghers ourselves, here’s hoping the trend continues.
(*Note: Since we’re not in the campaign forecasting business here, we chose to look at residents of the Pittsburgh region, rather than only City residents, proper. People across the broader geography consider “Pittsburgh” their home – and thus have a vested interest in the performance of its mayor).