A new poll shows City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell up by double digits in the New Orleans mayor's race.
A University of New Orleans Survey Research Center poll released Monday puts Cantrell 11 points ahead of former Municipal Court Judge Desiree Charbonnet going into Saturday's runoff.
About 46 percent of voters said they preferred Cantrell, while 35 percent favored Charbonnet. About 20 percent of voters were undecided, according to the survey, which was conducted from Nov. 1 to Nov. 8 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
On another issue, the survey found that about 59 percent of voters think the Sewerage & Water Board should be put directly under city control, rather than remain a quasi-independent agency. About 11 percent of voters think the S&WB should remain independent, and 18 percent think it should be privatized.
Cantrell has a 19-point lead over Charbonnet among black voters and a 16-point lead among women. Cantrell also does 4 percentage points better than Charbonnet among white voters, although that figure is within the poll's margin of error.
Those who voted for Cantrell in the Oct. 14 primary are a bit more likely to be sticking with their candidate, with 89 percent saying they plan to vote for her again, compared with 82 percent of Charbonnet's voters who say the same thing about their candidate.
About 57 percent of those who voted for Michael Bagneris in the primary said they plan to vote for Cantrell, with only 28 percent planning to back Charbonnet.
Cantrell led Charbonnet in the primary 39 percent to 30 percent, with Bagneris winning 19 percent and Troy Henry capturing 6 percent.
About 40 percent of Henry's voters said they are backing Charbonnet, compared with 36 percent who said they support Cantrell, who has picked up endorsements from both Henry and Bagneris.
Cantrell does better among millennials, with 57 percent of those under 35 saying they support her, compared with 31 percent who favor Charbonnet.
Charbonnet does best with voters between the ages of 35 and 44, but even there she trails Cantrell 46-42.
Cantrell polls relatively well among voters who approve of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's job performance, an interesting result given the sometimes tense relationship between the councilwoman and the mayor. About 45 percent of voters who strongly approve of Landrieu support Cantrell.
"On the other hand, respondents who are displeased with Landrieu are more likely to say they will cast a ballot for Charbonnet," UNO Survey Research Center Director Ed Chervenak said in an analysis of the poll results. "In the end, negative perceptions of Mitch Landrieu’s job performance are driving vote choice in the direction of Desiree Charbonnet."
Landrieu has a 54 percent approval rating, according to the poll, lower than the 60 percent he garnered in a UNO survey last year. Approval of the mayor is sharply split on racial lines: About 60 percent of black voters and 46 percent of white voters support him, according to the poll.
"We should expect a measure of decay in his approval ratings as he comes to the end of his tenure as New Orleans’ mayor," Chervenak said.
At the same time, about 46 percent of those responding to the survey said they think the city is headed in the wrong direction, with 40 percent saying it is on the right track.
On the issue of the Sewerage & Water Board, Cantrell has called for moving it under the city administration, a move that Charbonnet has said would be premature until details of the agency's bonding capacity are worked out. Both candidates oppose privatizing the utility.
The poll also asked voters about a proposal to remove the statue of Andrew Jackson from Jackson Square, finding opinions are sharply divided.
That issue cropped up during Landrieu's effort to take down four Jim Crow-era statues in the city, a move that culminated in their removal early this year. Some activists who favored removing those statues have said the Jackson monument should be removed as well because of his treatment of Native Americans and the fact he owned slaves.
About 37 percent of those responding to the survey said they would oppose removing the statue, while 35 percent favor its removal.
The results showed considerable polarization over the issue, with 29 percent of those who answered saying they "strongly support" removing the statue while 27 percent "strongly oppose" it.