OAKLAND -- Public support for Mayor Jean Quan has further eroded over the past year, leaving her less popular than her one-term predecessor, Ron Dellums, was near the end of his tenure, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
With Oakland's mayoral election nearly a year away, the polling results, compiled by Oakland-based EMC Research, cast fresh doubts on Quan's chances to win a second term.
Nearly four times as many respondents said Quan was doing only a fair or poor job compared with those who rated her performance as good or excellent. Nearly 2 in 3 of those queried viewed Quan unfavorably.
Asked whom they planned to vote for next year, 46 percent said definitely not Quan. Only 5 percent said they would definitely vote for the mayor.
"If you start with almost half the voters saying they are going to vote for someone else, it's going to be very difficult to win that election," EMC Research President Alex Evans said.
A poll conducted last March by SurveyUSA found similarly dismal numbers for the mayor.
Quan's re-election prospects have been strengthened by the lack of a big-name challenger to step forward, but that could change if the mayor's popularity doesn't quickly rebound.
"I think her numbers are so bad that it does indicate that somebody credible could step in and make a real run of it," political consultant Larry Tramutola said.
Quan's two main challengers at this point are port commissioner Bryan Parker and San Francisco State professor Joe Tuman.
If there is a crowded field this time around, Quan's high negatives might cost her key second- and third-place votes under the city's ranked-choice voting system. Tramutola said, "Everybody would be running on an anybody-but-Quan campaign. That dynamic could hurt her."
The poll, conducted in late August and early September, queried 500 likely voters about city life and politics. It found that Oaklanders generally like their city but are distrustful of political institutions and increasingly worried about crime, which has surged during Quan's time in office.
Only 27 percent of respondents said Oakland is on the right track, and 55 percent said they feel less safe in the city.
Crime was listed by 69 percent of respondents as the worst thing about living in Oakland. City government came in second, at 6 percent.
In a prepared statement, Quan said she is determined to make the city safer and has worked to secure grants, outside law enforcement experts and funding for more cops. "We have made significant progress, and the momentum has shifted," she said. "But we must do more and we must do it faster."
Although crime topped voter concerns, reauthorizing the city's signature public safety property tax that pays for 63 police officers is no slam dunk. Measure Y, which expires at the end of next year, needs a supermajority for passage, but only 57 percent of respondents said they would likely vote to extend it.
Respondents were split almost evenly about the importance of keeping the city's three major league sports teams. Asked which services most needed increased funding, public education ranked highest. It was followed by police, street repairs and blight abatement.
The chamber's annual survey is one of the most comprehensive snapshots of Oakland's electorate that is released publicly. This year's poll, which had a 4.73 percent margin of error, was weighted to overrepresent residents in the three City Council districts where incumbents face re-election battles next year. Fifty-one percent of respondents self-identified as white and 19 percent as African-American. However, Evans said that most of those who identified as mixed race were actually African-American, and the demographic makeup of those surveyed is representative of the electorate.
Council members Pat Kernighan and Libby Schaaf, whose terms expire next year, both polled strongly within their districts, while Councilwoman Desley Brooks appears vulnerable, the poll found. Among respondents in Brooks' East Oakland district, 31 percent viewed her favorably, while 27 viewed her unfavorably, Evans said. The margin of error in Brooks' district is 10 percentage points.
Quan's ratings were far worse. Only 24 percent of respondents viewed the mayor favorably compared with 62 percent who viewed her unfavorably -- a significant drop from last year when slightly over half of respondents viewed Quan negatively.
Quan's polling numbers are nearly identical to those of her predecessor, Evans said. Near the end of his only term in office, Dellums was viewed favorably by 30 percent of voters and unfavorably by 63 percent.
Carlos Uribe, a political consultant who has worked with Quan in the past, said the mayor has been hamstrung by rising crime. "We all know that public safety is not going to be solved in one year or in one term," he said. "That automatically put her in a bad position."
Uribe said any politician in Quan's position needs to engage the public and try to get their message across. "On face value, the poll doesn't look like good news," he said, "but we're about a year out from the election, and a lot can happen between now and then."
To see the full results, go to www.oaklandchamber.com.
Year Favorable Unfavorable
2012 36 53
2013 24 62
Source: EMC Research