Benjamin Knoll, assistant professor of government at Centre, had students in an introduction to politics class and a more advanced class on public opinion and voting behavior participate.
Although the answers represent the views of a small portion of the voting population in Boyle County, participation was high.
The sample size of about 1,300 total voters included 976 from Danville.
"We can look on the Secretary of State’s website to learn the ‘what’ of the election, but exit polls can help explain the ‘why,’” Knoll wrote Wednesday.
The survey gauged opinion about issues facing Danville and Boyle County, as well as local officials and the decisions they make.
Not surprisingly, the economy was clearly high on voters’ list of concerns, and the survey also dug for opinions on how development should be handled. When given 13 items to choose from, more voters identified jobs (38.3 percent) and economic development (20 percent) as the problem local government needs to solve most.
Although many of the questions dealt with larger issues, some simply asked people to rate their approval of elected officials and the choices they made.
When included on a list with President Barack Obama, U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, and U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, Boyle County Judge-Executive Harold McKinney enjoyed easily the highest approval rating of 69 percent.
Only 28.6 percent of Danville voters said they approve of the job the City Commission as a whole is doing.
They gave Mayor Bernie Hunstad a 29 percent approval rating, with Commissioners Ryan Montgomery and Gail Louis receiving 31 and 34 percent approval, respectively. Commissioners Kevin Caudill and J.H. Atkins had 54 and 53 percent respectively.
Among Danville voters, 25.8 percent approved of the decision to fire City Manager Paul Stansbury, while 50.4 percent disapproved and 23.8 had no opinion. Knoll sad the results offer insight into how issues like the handling of Stansbury’s dismissal and the city manager position color opinion about the City Commission.
“For example, of those who said that they ‘disapprove’ of the decision to fire Paul Stansbury, a full 84 percent also disapprove of the way that the commission is handling its job,” Knoll wrote. “However, only 56 percent of those who agreed with the Stansbury decision currently approve of the commission as a whole. This suggests that those who generally agree with the decisions that the City Commission make are still not overly enthusiastic with their general performance, while those who disagree with their decisions also strongly disapprove of the commission as a whole."
Knoll also has been able to use the answers provided by individual voting to further his analysis of the impact partisan affiliation has on voter behavior in non-partisan city elections.
Using precinct level results of the last city elections, Knoll had previously not been able to detect correlation between the way Democrats or Republican voted in city elections. This time, he found that partisanship or ideology may play a role.
Knoll said conservatives and Republicans tended to have higher approval ratings for Hunstad, Montgomery and Louis, while liberals and Democrats showed higher approval for Caudill and Atkins. There was only about a 10-percent difference, he noted.
President Obama’s approval rating among Boyle County voters was only 32 percent.
As an example of how the poll helped explain voting in the governor's race, Knoll said voters who said the character of the candidates mattered most in their choice voted 62 percent for Steve Beshear, 20 percent for Gatewood Galbraith, and only 18 percent for David Williams.