Poll shows just over one week from Nashville mayoral race, O’Connell leads pack

By: - July 24, 2023 6:00 am
Nashville mayoral candidates Jeff Yarbro, Freddie O'Connell and Matt Wiltshire backstage before a June 15 forum at Nashville Children's Theatre. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Nashville mayoral candidates Jeff Yarbro, Freddie O’Connell and Matt Wiltshire backstage before a June 15 forum at Nashville Children’s Theatre. (Photo: John Partipilo)

The first poll in the Nashville mayor’s race since businessman Jim Gingrich suspended his campaign on July 17 shows Metro Councilmember Freddie O’Connell leading the field.

The poll was conducted by Washington-based GBAO Strategies on behalf of the Tennessee Laborers PAC July 17-19 and surveyed 500 local voters. GBAO has conducted polls for the Laborers before the 2015 and 2019 mayoral election. 

O’Connell is polling at 21% with just over a week remaining before the Aug. 3 election, while conservative Alice Rolli and state Sen. Jeff Yarbro in a dead heat at 13% and 12% respectively. 

The poll showed former Nashville official Matt Wiltshire at 10%, and the remaining 11 candidates — including early favorite Sen. Heidi Campbell — posting single digits. 

Room for candidate growth appeared when voters were asked for their second choice. Eighteen percent named Yarbro, which could benefit him if he makes the runoff election featuring the top two Aug. 3 vote-getters. 

But 23% of those polled said they were still undecided, leaving the door open for the top four candidates to pick up votes. 

The poll also found Nashvillians are deeply pessimistic about the state of the city and unenthusiastic about spending public money on new sports facilities.

Question: “Do you support or oppose building a 30,000 seat racetrack facility on the current Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway site, with plans to attract a new NASCAR race and other high-profile racing events?”

Up from 53% one year ago, 59% of poll respondents see the city going in the wrong direction. In 2015, only 22% of voters surveyed responded negatively. 

Development of a new racetrack on the site of the current Fairgrounds Nashville Speedway is deeply unpopular, with only 14% of respondents expressing strong support. A question about support for a Major League Baseball stadium show similarly gloomy outlook. Only 12% of those surveyed strong support for a  MLB park; 67% oppose it.

The survey has a +/- 4.4% margin of error.

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J. Holly McCall
J. Holly McCall

Holly McCall has been a fixture in Tennessee media and politics for decades. She covered city hall for papers in Columbus, Ohio and Joplin, Missouri before returning to Tennessee with the Nashville Business Journal. Holly brings a deep wealth of knowledge about Tennessee’s political processes and players and likes nothing better than getting into the weeds of how political deals are made.

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