City in trouble, Mayor isn't, poll shows

Posted: February 15, 2012

A NEW POLL HOLDS good news and bad news for Mayor Nutter and Philadelphia in his second term.

The Pew Charitable Trusts poll released yesterday showed that the approval rating for Nutter's job performance is on the rise, even as residents express growing concerns about crime, education and the economy.

Nutter's approval rating increased to 60 percent, up from 52 percent in a Pew poll last year.

That was helped by a 10-percentage-point increase in his approval rating among African-Americans, with whom his numbers have previously been less than stellar.

Eighty-five percent of the 1,600 residents polled last month cited violent crime as their top priority for Nutter to address in the next four years. Education and the economy also weigh heavily on their minds, with nearly 80 percent citing those areas as the next priorities for the city to address.

Nutter yesterday said he had only glanced at the poll results but was focused on addressing those concerns.

"I'm appreciative of any support, but I can't emphasize enough that I'm more interested in what Philadelphians think of the city, the government and its performance," Nutter said when asked about his growing approval among African-Americans.

Larry Eichel, director of Pew's Philadelphia Research Initiative, said that "one of the central questions" of the poll was the conflicting results of concerns about crime and confidence in Nutter.

"The poll does not shed a lot of light on how those two things can coexist," Eichel said. "Polls are better at measuring what people feel rather than why they feel it and what they think rather than why they think it."

A curfew for teenagers enacted last year was popular with residents - 88 percent support it - but they were not sure if it is helping with public safety. Forty-one percent said it makes some difference, 27 percent said it makes a great deal of difference and 17 percent said it has little impact.

Despite Nutter's popularity, 35 percent of those polled say Philadelphia is worse off than it was five years ago and 42 percent say the city is not headed in the right direction.

- Staff writer Jan Ransom contributed to this report.

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