Commentary: The Power Poll – A Sneak Peek into 2022 (and Beyond) – Tennessee Lookout
Nashville’s economy will continue its thunderous roar through 2022 and build on the explosive growth of previous years, according to the December Nashville Power Poll. Members were also asked if it would be a good or a bad thing if Facebook opens a huge headquarters here, as they say. A majority of members thought this would be a positive development; only 16% viewed it negatively.
On the policy side, Power Poll members believe the Jim Cooper Congressional District, which includes all of Davidson County, will soon be divided when the General Assembly conducts its ten-year redistribution of the district’s boundaries. However, most believe he will somehow survive and be re-elected. As for his brother, John, who is our mayor and is running for re-election in 2023, most believe it is far too early to guess whether he will be re-elected or replaced. This despite the fact that whenever two or more Nashville political junkies get together, John Cooper’s political future is all they can talk about.
Finally, in our irrelevant but insightful question of the month, we asked if people are enjoying their office parties this year. More than half did not. This is life in the age of COVID. Those who had one had a fabulous time. Only 2% found theirs boring.
Here are the answers and specific questions to the December Nashville Power poll.
The Power Poll is not a scientific poll. Power Poll only asks questions of those in positions of influence, that is, those who hold the levers of power in one way or another. To that extent, it is a fascinating glimpse into the position of the powers that be in a particular city on issues of local importance. 1,042 Nashville Power Poll members received the survey, 405 responded, for a response rate of 38.87%.
Members of the Nashville Power Poll are optimistic. Regarding our economic outlook as a city, the graph continues at the top and to the right. May the boom times continue.
We took it out of the park on the corporate relocation front. Assurion, Amazon, Oracle and many other small businesses have either come here in the past two years or are planning to do so, with rumors that Facebook is also looking to establish a major headquarters there. All of this comes as massive infrastructure developments take place on the east bank of the Cumberland, further facilitating the outsourcing of corporate headquarters. Many business elites feel that once a certain level of offshoring is achieved, success simply breeds more success and large-scale growth becomes inevitable. This, even as the city is grappling with signs of deterioration in its public infrastructure (transportation, garbage collection, affordable housing) which may not be able to keep pace with the massive influx of new residents.
As long as there are Power Poll members worried about all the growth, they don’t seem like a huge constituency. If we look here at the Power Poll question about a possible location on Facebook, only 16% see such a development as potentially bad. It’s not a lot of people.
Looking ahead to politics in 2022, one of the bigger stories that will emerge fairly quickly will be the redesign of the Fifth Congressional District, namely Davidson County, Dickson Country and parts of Cheatham. Long owned by U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, the district will likely be sliced like a fresh-out-of-the-oven pie, with portions going to other Congressional districts owned by Republicans. The idea, of course, is to dump Cooper and send one less Democrat to Washington from Tennessee. Significantly, a majority of Power Poll members believe that even if the district is redesigned, Cooper will somehow get a victory no matter what his new district looks like. Some politicians just know how to survive, and Jim Cooper may be one of them.
Elsewhere politically, it seems too early to bet on the survival of John Cooper, our mayor, in an election challenge in 2023. 41% believe that such a discussion is premature. However, of those willing to take risks, 27% said Cooper would be re-elected. 13% predicted the victory of the local head of the nonprofit organization Hal Cato. 19% said someone else would win. The post is said to favor Cooper, although he appears to have made few friends during the first half of his administration. He struggled to make the transition from board member to consensus builder and visionary. A lot has been thrown in Cooper’s path – COVID, 2nd Avenue bombing, tornado damage – but that doesn’t excuse the fact that as we speak the trash is not being picked up, the traffic is bad, the city’s homeless population looks worse than ever, and we haven’t even started talking about the students’ test scores.
A challenge for Cooper will come and it could very well be a doozy.