The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt Nashville Poll finds increased optimism in the city’s future, higher approval of city officials

The annual poll surveyed 1,014 Nashville residents from March 1 to March 21.
Royce Yang
Skyscrapers and historical buildings in downtown Nashville, as captured on March 15, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Royce Yang)

The 2024 Vanderbilt Nashville Poll surveyed 1,016 Nashville, Tenn., residents from March 1 to March 21 with a 3.8% margin of error. The poll found residents are optimistic about the direction in which the city is heading and shows higher approval rates of city officials such as the mayor and Metro Council than in previous years. 

The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions conducts a biannual Vanderbilt Poll assessing state-wide political opinions in addition to this annual Nashville Poll and pre-presidential election polls. The polls are co-directed by political science professors Joshua Clinton and John Geer. Geer also serves as vice provost of academic and strategic affairs.

Future of Nashville

For the first time since 2020, the percentage of respondents who said the city is heading in the right direction increased, with 53% expressing this optimism. Most respondents (78%) said they either like or love living in Nashville, and 83% said they like or love living in Tennessee. Those who described the state of the Nashville economy as “good” or “fairly good” increased to 68%, the highest proportion since 2021.

“Freddie O’Connell’s election and first months in office have put the city on a better course,” Geer said. “The Vanderbilt Poll supports that claim, showing substantial improvement in the right track/wrong track number, along with a high approval rating for the Mayor.”

Geer also said there are many challenges and opportunities facing O’Connell in the coming months and years.

“The November referendum on O’Connell’s transit proposal, for instance, will be a crucial test of his leadership. With the recent announcement by Oracle that Nashville will become its global headquarters, the need for more investment in infrastructure is even greater,” Geer said. “O’Connell understands this is a decisive moment in the city’s history.”

Local politics

Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell polled with a 71% approval rate, higher than the approval rate of former Mayor John Cooper from the previous three years. O’Connell’s approval was much higher (85%) among respondents of his own party, Democrats, than it was among Republican respondents (56%). 

Junior Andrew Kyung, president of Vanderbilt College Democrats, said O’Connell has been a “fantastic” mayor.

“He has so far shown to be a compassionate leader with particularly visionary goals to advance the city’s infrastructure,” Kyung said. “Several members of the College Democrats were happy to help in his campaign, and we are happy to see his plans materialize. It’s no wonder why Nashvillians from all over the political spectrum commend his leadership.”

Of the respondents, 40% identified as Democrat, 18% as Republican and 29% as independent. Of those who identified as Republican or Republican-leaning independent, 36% said they were supporters of the Make America Great Again movement more than of the Republican Party as a whole, an increase from 28% last year. 

A representative of Vanderbilt College Republicans did not immediately respond to The Hustler’s request for comment.

LGBTQ+ legislation

A majority of respondents (59%) expressed disapproval with how the state legislature has handled laws that affect the LGBTQ+ community. Last year, Governor Bill Lee signed bills into law that restricted public adult cabaret shows and banned gender-affirming care for minors.

Crime and safety

The poll showed increases in reports of property crime, identity theft, hate crime and violent crime when compared to last year. The poll defines property as crimes “like burglary and theft.” The 2023 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report also showed increases in some crimes on campus. 

In terms of safety, 63% of respondents said there is an area near where they live in which they would be afraid to walk alone at night, and 71% of respondents described reducing crime as something that should be a top priority for the mayor. The poll showed a 73% approval rate for Metro Nashville Police Department, an increase from 70% in 2023 and 68% in 2024.


The Vanderbilt Nashville Poll showed increased approval of both the Metro Nashville School Board and the Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools compared to last year. Adrienne Battle has served as Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools since 2020 when she took over the role from Shawn Joseph.

The poll found that 34% of respondents described the performance of public preschools, kindergartens and elementary schools as good or excellent, with 28% of respondents giving this rating for public middle schools and 29% for public high schools.

Gov. Lee recently signed legislation permitting public school faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns on school grounds. This came after multiple protests and rallies in support of gun control in the wake of the Covenant School shooting.

Growth and development

Of respondents who have lived in Nashville for 20 or more years, 84% said the city is growing too quickly. However, of those who have lived in Nashville less than five years, a smaller proportion (74%) expressed the same sentiment. A large majority (90%) of respondents agreed that Nashville has been welcoming to newcomers.

The poll found concern over issues of affordability as well, with 92% of respondents saying they cannot afford to buy a house in Davidson County. Vanderbilt graduate students held multiple rallies calling for affordable housing in the past few years.

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About the Contributors
Jacob Stoebner
Jacob Stoebner, News Editor
Jacob Stoebner ('26) is from Franklin, Tenn., and is majoring in biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering. When not writing for The Hustler, you can usually find him running, hiking in parks around Nashville or reading. He can be reached at [email protected].
Royce Yang
Royce Yang, Staff Photographer
Royce Yang (‘27) is planning to major in political science in the College of Arts and Science. He can occasionally be observed curating an extensive collection of Bach or attempting to identify helicopters around the Medical Center based on their noise. You can reach him at [email protected].

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