1:50 pm Jan. 18, 20132
I wrote earlier this week about Ray Kelly's enduring popularity, and why it's probably riskier on balance for even a Democratic mayoral candidate to oppose him than support him.
As shown yet again by this week's Quinnipiac poll, Kelly is popular among Democrats and among African-Americans, and his approval rating outstrips that of Michael Bloomberg and all of Bloomberg's would-be successors.
This isn't just a question of people reacting positively to the city's low crime rate. As my colleague Reid Pillifant wrote way back in 2011, Kelly is notably diligent about community outreach and a skilled manager of his own public image, which goes some way toward explaining why his popularity is consistently higher than that of the police department itself.
Here, for example, is a chart showing his popularity among Democrats, relative to the NYPD's. It uses Quinnipiac's approval numbers for Kelly and "police."
This is saying something, since it isn't necessarily the natural state of things for the police commissioner to be more popular than the department. Again, using Quinnipiac:
These numbers are from six polls, taken before Kelly took over the NYPD in 2002, in which voters were asked if they approved of the job the commissioner was doing and the job the police were doing. In the polls taken from 1997 through 2000, the commissioner was Howard Safir. In 2001, it was Bernie Kerik.
Here's Kelly's approval among subgroups:
According to the last five Quinnpiac polls, Kelly's job approval rating is above 50 percent among Democrats, independent voters, whites, blacks and Hispanics.
This isn't to say that there's no political gain in addressing very real public concerns in 2013 about some of Kelly's policies, particularly stop-and-frisk. Department policy is going to be an issue in 2013.
But if Quinnipiac's polling (which yes, I know, isn't perfect) indicates anything, it's that even the groups most concerned about police-conduct issues don't necessarily hold the commissioner responsible for them.
Black respondents have consistently been toughest on Kelly and the police, particularly around 2006, after the Sean Bell killing. But even there, Kelly's numbers have been fairly solid, and higher than the department's. And better, in any event, than the response at an Al Sharpton forum to Christine Quinn's Kelly boosterism would suggest.