Poll: New Orleans mayor's race cloudy after Katrina
Mayor Ray Nagin gets good marks on his hurricane-response efforts, but his chances for re-election are unclear.
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(CNN) -- Though most New Orleanians approve of their mayor's handling of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath -- and are willing to overlook his "chocolate city" remark -- Ray Nagin is no shoo-in for re-election, a recent poll shows.
The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Tuesday indicates that 54 percent of the city's residents appreciate Nagin's hurricane-response efforts, but only 19 percent said they definitely would vote for him.
The telephone poll was conducted February 18-26 among 804 current city residents, 399 of them white and 311 of them black. The sampling error for general questions is plus or minus 4 percent, while results broken down by race have a sampling error of 6 percent. (Interactive: Poll questions)
Nagin's marks are well above those for President Bush's handling of the disaster, 23 percent, and for Gov. Kathleen Blanco's efforts, 33 percent. (Full poll results -- PDF)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's response to Katrina scored the lowest at 22 percent approval. Fifty percent said they approved of the New Orleans Police Department's response.
Nagin's popularity is considerably higher among the city's black residents, 59 percent of whom said they approved of how he handled Katrina. Forty-seven percent of whites said the same.
Whites also were more offended by Nagin's remark that residents should strive to rebuild a "chocolate New Orleans," a reference to the city's black majority. Thirty-one percent of whites said the comment was offensive, while only 17 percent of blacks thought so.
The majority of people, however, thought he simply could have said it better, as 66 percent of blacks and 57 percent of whites said they were not offended but would have liked to see Nagin choose his words more carefully. Sixteen percent of blacks and 19 percent of whites said there was nothing at all wrong with the comment.
When asked if they "would vote for Ray Nagin for mayor," white residents overwhelmingly said they were less likely to re-elect Nagin, who is black, than were black respondents. Only 9 percent of whites said Nagin would get their vote come April, and 56 percent said he definitely will not. Thirty-one percent said they would consider voting for him.
Conversely, 31 percent of black respondents said they definitely will vote for him, 29 percent said they will not and 35 percent said they will consider it.
Nagin's closest competitor for the job is Mitch Landrieu, who has tepid support among both whites and blacks, according to the poll. Only 17 percent of blacks and 18 percent of whites said they would definitely vote for Landrieu, who is white, while 42 percent of blacks and 49 percent of whites said they would consider it.
Thirty-two percent of blacks and 27 percent of whites said they are "definitely voting against" Landrieu.
It should be noted, however, that the survey polled only current New Orleans residents and not those still displaced by Katrina and the subsequent flooding that ravaged the city in August. Displaced residents will be allowed to vote in the election.
That scenario has left many residents doubting whether the mayoral votes will be tallied accurately. Fifty-six percent of blacks and 32 percent of whites said the votes will not be correctly counted.
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