Voter opinion of Mayor Jenny Durkan has taken a tumble.
Back in August of 2018, her favorables were at 63 percent and her unfavorables were at 25 percent. Today, Durkan is polling at 43 percent favorable and 36 percent unfavorable, according to a mid-July poll from Patinkin Research Strategies (PRS). That's a 31-point drop in her net-favorability margin over the course of two years.
Her job performance numbers aren't looking great, either. According to a KING5 and Survey USA poll from June, 31 percent of "Seattle adults" believed that Durkan should resign, with 43 percent approving her job performance and 40 percent disapproving. The PRS poll puts Durkan's job performance underwater, with 35 percent approving and 38 percent disapproving.
PRS surveyed 400 registered Seattle voters who said they're likely to vote in the mayoral elections next year, and the poll has a +/- 4.9 margin of error.
While the poll memos don't opine on the reasons for Durkan's dip, her actions as mayor do not seem to align with new surveys of public opinion on issues such as policing, police use of less-lethal crowd dispersal weapons, a Seattle business payroll tax, and more.
That PRS poll dove deeper into the specific issues Durkan has been tackling. Out of all of them—police response to Black Lives Matter protests, coronavirus, cost of living, homelessness, ensuring workers make a living wage, and providing affordable child care—voters only viewed Durkan's response to the coronavirus positively.
In general, 82% of Seattleites support the Black Lives Matter movement that has caused a reexamination of police power and police budgets.
A Crosscut Elway poll released today found that 51% of the city supports “dismantling the police force and starting over with a new model of what police are supposed to do in the community.” However, only 44 people from Seattle out of 400 statewide were polled. Relatedly, in the KING5 survey from June, 54 percent of respondents were in favor of reallocating money from the police to "go to social workers and community groups."Durkan has stopped short of this idea, favoring a "reimagining" of the Seattle Police Department budget instead.
After significant public pressure, Durkan announced $76 million in reductions to SPD's budget. But most of the initial $20 million in proposed cuts were already going to be scaled back due to COVID-19, and the rest is coming from simply transferring civilian entities such as parking enforcement and the Office of Police Accountability out of SPD and thus out of SPD's budget.
Relatedly, 58 percent of Seattle wants to ban tear gas. Though Durkan announced a tear gas "ban" during the height of demonstrations last month, the ban allowed tear gas to be deployed under certain situations and stated that members of the SWAT team could still use it whenever they wanted. It took an injuction from a federal judge (in a case in which I'm listed as a plaintiff) to get SPD to stop gassing Seattleites. Even then, SPD has violated that injunction.
Tucked into this KING5/Survey USA poll is the detail that "58% support a proposed payroll tax on Seattle's largest employers which potentially could raise money for housing, COVID-19 relief, and green projects." This poll was taken before Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda's JumpStart Seattle payroll tax was passed 7-2 by the Seattle City Council. However, Durkan has been open about her distaste for a payroll tax since the idea was proposed earlier this year by Councilmember Kshama Sawant. Durkan most recently sent a letter to the City Clerk announcing her intention not to sign the bill for the payroll tax or the tax's spending plan. Council members have indicated that there's a possibility Durkan will refuse to act on the bills at all.
While the city council's job performance numbers are faring worse than Durkan's—43 percent of Seattle adults don't think they're doing a good job, whereas 39 percent think they are—the council has been actively attempting to defund SPD by 50 percent and to reallocate those funds back into the community. They've also passed a ban on tear gas and passed a progressive business payroll tax.
Durkan's favorability had been called into question even before this polling was released. There's currently a fight to get a mayoral recall vote on November's ballot, and three Democratic legislative districts have signed resolutions asking for her to resign.