Commentary: The Power Poll – A peek at 2022 (and beyond)
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper waiting to speak to the Tennessee General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Redistricting in October 2021. Photo: John Partipilo)
The Nashville economy will continue its thundering roar into 2022 and advance upon its explosive growth in prior years, according to the December Nashville Power Poll. Members were also asked whether it would be a good or bad thing if Facebook were to open up a massive headquarters here, as is being rumored. A majority of members thought that would be a positive development; only 16% looked upon it negatively.
As to politics, Power Poll members think Jim Cooper’s congressional district, which includes all of Davidson County, will soon be carved up when the General Assembly performs its once-a-decade redrawing of district lines. However, most think he will somehow survive and be re-elected. As for his brother, John, who is our mayor and stands for re-election in 2023, most think it’s way too early to be guessing whether he’ll be re-elected or replaced. This despite the fact that whenever two or more Nashville political junkies are gathered together, John Cooper’s political future is all they can talk about.
Finally, in our Irrelevant Yet Insightful Question of the Month, we asked whether people liked their holiday office parties this year. Over half didn’t have one. Such is life in the age of COVID. Those who did have one had a fabulous time. Only 2% found theirs a bore.
Here are the specific answers and questions to the December Nashville Power Poll.
The Power Poll is not a scientific poll. Power Poll asks questions only of those in a position of influence—people who hold the levers of power in some form or fashion. To that extent, it’s a fascinating glimpse as to where the powers-that-be in a particular city stand on matters of local importance. 1,042 Nashville Power Poll members were sent the survey, 405 responded, for a response rate of 38.87%.
Nashville Power Poll members are bullish. With regard to our economic prospects as a city, the graph continues up and to the right. Let the boom times roll ever onward.
We have been jacking it out of the park on the business relocation front. Assurion, Amazon, Oracle, and many other smaller enterprises have either come here in the last couple of years, or plan to, with rumors swirling that Facebook is also looking to establish a major HQ here. All of this comes as massive infrastructure developments are taking place on the east bank of the Cumberland, further facilitating big-level corporate headquarter relocations. There is a sense, among many business elites, that once a certain level of relocations is achieved, success simply begets more success and large-scale growth becomes unavoidable. This, even though the city is struggling with signs of deterioration in its public infrastructure (transportation, garbage pickup, affordable housing) that may not be able to keep pace with the massive inflow of new residents.
To the extent that there are Power Poll members who are worried about all the growth, they don’t appear to be a huge constituency. If one drills into the Power Poll question regarding a possible Facebook location here, only 16% see such a development as potentially bad. That’s not a whole lot of people.
Looking ahead to politics in 2022, one of the biggest stories that will emerge fairly quickly will be the redrawing of the fifth congressional district, that being Davidson County, Dickson Country, and parts of Cheatham. Long held by U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, the district will likely be sliced up like a fresh pie out of the oven, with portions going to other congressional districts held by Republicans. The idea, of course, is to jettison Cooper and send one less Democrat to Washington from Tennessee. Significantly, a majority of Power Poll members feel that even if the district is redrawn, Cooper will somehow pull off a victory no matter what his new district looks like. Some politicos just know how to survive, and Jim Cooper may be one of them.
Elsewhere on the political front, it appears too early to take bets on whether John Cooper, our mayor, will survive an electoral challenge in 2023. 41% think such discussion premature. However, among those willing to step out on a limb, 27% said Cooper would be reelected. 13% were predicting victory for local non-profit head Hal Cato. 19% said someone else altogether would win. Incumbency would favor Cooper, although he appears to have made few friends over the first half of his administration. He has had a difficult time making the transition from Council member to consensus builder and visionary. Much has been thrown Cooper’s way—COVID, 2nd Avenue bombing, tornado damage—but that doesn’t excuse the fact that as we speak, garbage isn’t being picked up, traffic is bad, the city’s homeless population appears worse than ever and we haven’t even begun to talk about student test scores.
A challenge to Cooper will come and it could very well be a doozy.
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