A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling found the race for mayor is wide open, with District 19 Councilmember Freddie O’Connell leading the pack of mayoral hopefuls but four others within the margin of error of his lead.

Commissioned by NAIOP Nashville, a commercial real estate development association, the poll surveyed 541 likely voters June 2-3 and showed O’Connell with 10 percent, Jeff Yarbro with 9 percent, Heidi Campbell and Matt Wiltshire with 8 percent and Sharon Hurt with 7 percent. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.2 percent. 

The poll also found that almost half of all voters, 45 percent, were undecided. Alice Rolli received 4 percent, Jim Gingrich received 3 percent and no other candidate registered individually. Six percent of voters chose “someone else.”

The poll also measured favorability and unfavorability among voters. Yarbro measured the highest, with 29 percent of voters having a favorable opinion of him, followed by Campbell (26), O’Connell (20), Wiltshire (20), Hurt (17), Gingrich (11) and Rolli (8). Campbell had the highest unfavorable numbers at 16 percent while Wiltshire had the lowest at 8 percent.

“As Nashville prepares to elect its fourth mayor in eight years, NAIOP is pleased to offer this poll as a public service to voters in Metro Nashville,” said NAIOP Nashville’s Executive Director Caroline Mullen in a release. 

While several campaigns have been polling in the last few weeks, the PPP poll is the first public poll by a credible pollster in this cycle. An earlier poll by a school choice group found Campbell with 17 percent, but also oversampled Campbell’s state senate district. Public Policy Polling is a firm typically aligned with Democratic candidates and has an A- rating in Five Thirty Eight’s pollster rankings with an average of 80 percent of races called correctly.

The full results of the poll can be found here.


Memorial Day has passed, and you can’t turn on a TV now without hearing from at least two campaigns. 

Jim Gingrich and Matt Wiltshire have begun spending heavily on ads, with Gingrich, the former AllianceBernstein COO, spending about $75,000 per week on broadcast and another $56,000 per week on cable in the month of May. Wiltshire matched him on broadcast spending, and the two campaigns combined to spend more than $700,000 during the month. Both are in the process of producing new ads to debut in the upcoming weeks. 

Freddie O’Connell, who has lagged both in self-funding and fundraising, took to social media in response with an ad of his own about not being able to afford an ad.

Here’s a look at the crop of ads currently running:

YouTube video

Candidate: Matt Wiltshire

Ad: “Back to Basics”

Transcript: “We need to be investing in our neighborhoods around the county, building sidewalks to connect communities to retail opportunities, so that kids can get to school more easily. We’ve got to fill the potholes. We’ve got to pick up the trash. We’ve got to clean up the street. We’ve got to take pride in our city. We need to invest in neighborhood schools. Every neighborhood school should be a world-class school. It’s about getting back to basics, doing the things that we need to do to make sure we’re proud of the city we live in.”

Analysis: Matt Wiltshire introduces one of his six priority areas — “back to basics” — in a 30-second spot. In collaborative “we” statements, Wilshire appeals to Nashville residents to come together and address basic issues like sidewalks, potholes, trash and schools. These are themes Wiltshire has been hammering since entering the race a year ago and a nod to problems the Cooper administration had with trash and recycling when contractor Red River filed for bankruptcy. It’s also his first new ad since going on air during the Super Bowl (as a previous ad targeted at seniors was just a re-cut of the Super Bowl ad). There’s not a lot of specificities here about how Wiltshire would get “back to basics,” just a direction he says his administration would take. 

Where people can see it: Broadcast TV, streaming and digital

YouTube video

Candidate: Jim Gingrich

Ad: “Tired”

Transcript: [Gingrich sitting in traffic]

“Are you tired of this?”

[Gingrich in front of a house with a price constantly rising]

“And this?”

[Gingrich in front of a construction site]

“And this?

I’ve got a plan to manage growth and make Nashville more liveable. The soul of our city depends on it.”

Analysis: Gingrich has run a set of smart ads up to this point tapping into Nashvillians’ frustrations with growth. Anyone who has sat in traffic or tried to buy a house in the last five years will quickly identify with what he’s “tired” of. At only 15 seconds, the ad appeals more to emotion than any specific policy. While Gingrich touts his “plan” for making “Nashville more liveable,” it’s one that hasn’t been seen beyond promises to stop “out-of-town developers” and “stadiums for billionaires.” This is the second ad he’s mentioned having a plan and at some point, voters are going to need to see it.

Where people can see it: Broadcast TV, streaming and digital

YouTube video

Candidate: Freddie O’Connell

Title: “Are you Ready for It?”

Transcript: O’Connell: “Hi, my name’s Freddie O’Connell. I love mom, puppies and apple pie.”

Resident: “What are you doing Freddie?”

O’Connell: “Oh, well, we’ve watched a bunch of self-funding multi-millionaires get up on TV with political ads and we are trying to get on TV as quickly as we can. People are asking us how we’re gonna do it, but we need your help. Also, watch this:”

Bob Mendes: “I’m Bob Mendes and I’m proud to support Freddie O’Connell for mayor cause he’ll be ready on day one.”

O’Connell: “And here’s my family.”

Resident: “Freddie shouldn’t you be doing call time?”

O’Connell: “Actually, that’s a great idea. Hey, Taylor Swift? Yes thanks, can you chip in 1,800 bucks?”

Analysis: This ad, obviously low-budget and uploaded to Twitter, takes a stab at Wiltshire and Gingrich, who have now both had multiple ads aired on TV. Wiltshire’s campaign started the year with over a million dollars — $350,000 of which he loaned his own campaign — and Gingrich loaned his campaign $2 million to kick things off. O’Connell on the other hand reported having $300,000 on hand for the first quarter’s campaign finance disclosure, which, to O’Connell’s point in the ad, is largely made up of small donations. The response is an internet ad shot on an iPhone and making use of a cardboard cutout TV rather than an expensive and slick TV ad. 

Where people can see it: Twitter and YouTube. 

Disclosure: Matt Wiltshire has donated to the Nashville Banner. Financial supporters play no role in the Banner’s journalism.

Steve is a three-decade veteran of newspapers, working around the country at places like the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune before returning home to Nashville in 2011 to edit The City Paper and Nashville...