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Poll: Gray would beat Fenty in a tight 2010 race

Washington Post Editors

Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) would topple Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) in a potentially tight 2010 election, according to a new poll by the nonpartisan Clarus Research Group, based in the District.

In a head-to-head contest, 41 percent of those surveyed in live telephone interviews said they would vote for Gray while 37 percent would vote for Fenty. An additional 22 percent were undecided. Gray has said that he is considering challenging the first-term mayor.

The poll of 501 self-identified registered voters was conducted Nov. 15 to 18. Stories about possible ethical lapses by Gray appeared in The Washington Post and The Washington Times on Nov. 18.

The Times article probed home repairs and architectural services provided to Gray by mega-developer Chris Smith. The Post article reported Gray's use of official stationery to solicit a contribution from Comcast for the D.C. Democratic Party.

Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus, said he could not say whether the recent stories about Gray would have significantly impacted the poll. "You can't ever tell. There's no evidence whether something like that would make a difference," he said. "Something like that has yet to play out. ... [Voters] have to see how he responds."

According to the poll, just 35 percent of voters approved of how the mayor is handling "living up to high standards of ethics."

Over the past year, Fenty has been criticized for tapping friends and fellow athletes for boards and commissions. Most recently, his administration is grappling with routing millions of dollars to the D.C. Housing Authority, which awarded construction contracts to a firm with personal ties to the mayor.

The poll shows Fenty's approval rating at 43 percent, and 53 percent of voters said they would like to see someone new elected.

Faucheux said in a statement that Gray appears to be benefiting from an "anti-Fenty vote."

"It doesn't mean [Fenty is] down and out. He's got the time and the resources to make a comeback," Faucheux said in an interview. "But he's got a lot of work to do."

In a mayoral race that added council members Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large) and Michael A. Brown (I-At Large), Fenty would come out on top, with 34 percent of those polled saying they would vote for the mayor. Gray follows with 24 percent, while Kwame Brown and Michael Brown trail with 13 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

According to a summary of the poll, Fenty's most supportive demographics are "men, whites, voters under 50 years old, and those in the area comprising Wards 2 and 3."

"Fenty loses women, voters 50 and older, African Americans and the other two areas of the city."

"You've got some big differences," Faucheux said. "Voters in the city look at the mayor in very different ways."

The poll also looked at police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee. Seventy-one percent of voters approved of Lanier while 47 percent approved of Rhee.

Their approval ratings were reflected in the voters' opinions of how the mayor is handling certain issues: 54 percent approved of how he is "protecting the city against crime and violence" while 43 percent approved of how he is "improving public education."

Brynna McCosker of Clarus said the firm paid for the poll itself for "internal purposes and public use."

The poll was the first Clarus conducted on the mayor, so the firm did not have a benchmark for comparison, but Faucheux said the "honeymoon" is over when looking at other surveys of the mayor's first year in office. A Washington Post poll in 2008 showed that he had a 72 percent approval rating.

"The issues have gotten more difficult, and there is controversy surrounding them," Faucheux said.

Faucheux said Fenty is not unlike other leaders whose approval ratings have been affected by the economy. "Washington is not immune to that," he said, pointing to the city's 11 percent unemployment rate. "You've got public discontent."

UPDATE: Gray addressed the poll in a statement:

"I was pleased to learn that a poll by the Clarus Research Group reports my approval rating at 46 percent and disapproval at 16 percent. There is no greater calling than public service. And I am honored to serve the city in which I was born, raised and live. I look forward to even higher ratings, no matter what elected position I hold."

-- Nikita Stewart

By Washington Post Editors  |  November 23, 2009; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  2010 District Election , D.C. Council , Education , Mayor Fenty , Nikita Stewart  
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Public discontent is an understatement.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | November 23, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Here's the link to the two page executive summary. I wish online articles would post links to their sources. It's so easy to do. Lookin'good for Gray.

Posted by: efavorite | November 23, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

22% undecided is pretty big. 4% difference is well within the margin of error for polls (especially non-scientific polls) Also, considereing that this poll was done while Gray and Thomas were grandstanding about contracts and schools. And before Gray issues arose. I don't really know what this means. Fenty just might pull the trigger on the ethics investigation and drag Gray's numbers way down. I think the fact that Gray losses when anyone else enters the race speaks to limited strenght of Gray's support.

Posted by: politicalrealist | November 23, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I sincerely hope someone with significant name recognition (other than Marion Barry, of course) will run aganist Mayor Fenty in the Democratic primary. I will not vote for Mayor Fenty again. In my view, his administration is corrupt and non-transparent in its operations. I also think he is a tool for developers.

Posted by: DCResident22 | November 23, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

First, I'm amazed the Post even printed this story, particularly since NO ATTENTION has been given to Michelle Rhee's cover up of her then boyfriend's sexual deviance with young girls. Second, ANYBODY BUT FENTY! That charlatan has to go. Public discontent is truly an understatement. Fenty comes across as a liar, a spoiled brat, OCD when it comes to exercise and a cruel, manipulative little man.

Posted by: southyrndiva | November 23, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

After reading the poll. I think it is important to note that it states "the fact that Gray beats fenty when 38% don't know enough about him to rate his job performance is an indication that a good bit of Gray's support is the Anti-fenty vote" If this is true, and Gray's ethical violations are brought to light (and they will) many of those undecided votes could swing to Fenty. This appears to be the case because only 38% say Fenty is living up to high ethical standards. The business end of an ethics investigation during a campaign could severly tarnish Gray's ability to capitalize. And, Gray is the main person making those accusations.

Posted by: politicalrealist | November 23, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Happy days are here again The skies above are clear again So let's sing a song of cheer again Happy days are here again Oh I hope to sing an old school political vistory song! 22% undecided; I guess folks have the right to be but i can't stand them. I never understood people not having an idea on who they would vote. The issues are as defined now as they will be then.

Posted by: oknow1 | November 23, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I have an idea! Let's hire a white mayor and see what happens! Just sayin' "possible ethical lapses by Gray" DC folks eat that stuff up. Anything to get over on the man means he's a good guy. I mean, why else would they re-elect a crack smokin' mayor after he got out of prison?

Posted by: joejack65 | November 23, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

this is great news. all of you folks in dc should get behind gray and give him your full support!

Posted by: stayone | November 23, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Southern diva, What is Gray? A petty, arrogant, hypocritcal, strong-arming poverty pimp that has the eyes of a corpse. "I want my baseball tickets!!! Give me free repairs on my house or else (oops, let me pay for it now, the press just found out)!!! You had better come off that 20K Comcast, I am the chairman of the city council. Look at the stationary I am sending this note on." oh, he was just trying to be helpful. ANYBODY BUT GRAY!!!!! I can't wait for the real stuff to come out. I hate guys like Gray and Chavious. They are strong-arm artists. I know from first hand experience. Pimps! Pimps! Pimps! Gray makes 90k and lives in a two million dollar gated house. Math don't add up baby. I would take Micheal Brown first.

Posted by: politicalrealist | November 23, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

politicalrealist - good points but there's a treasure trove of Fenty ethical issues to be exposed. Cronyism, fraud allegations, misuse of government vehicles, contracting including his wife's firm, oh the list can go on. The key variable in this election will be race and Michelle Rhee. Race is not the white vote, but how much of the Black and minority vote Fenty keeps. If Gray can crack the white vote and keep a sizeable portion of the Black vote, congratulate Mayor Gray. Michele Rhee will be muzzled and probably in Sacremento when this campaign kicks in.

Posted by: oknow1 | November 23, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

politicalrealist - where is that house in Hillcrest? I live in Hillcrest. I know where Kwame lives. I know where Kim Alexander grew up, but where is that house in Hillcrest. $2 million in SE, DC? Across the river? A part of me is happy to hear this, but I want to see this house. Gated in Hillcrest? Come on let's be fair. Mike Brown is no where near ready to be mayor. His only thing would be he's not Fenty. People like him, but i don't think he is ready.

Posted by: oknow1 | November 23, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

oknow1, First, i will grant you that I only saw a picture of Gray's house. I am approximating what it would cost to buy what I saw. Perhaps he doesn't have money stashed in his deep freezer. MAYBE. All i am trying to point out is that Gray is a hypocrite and a grandstander. Back in the day, a business would have to fork up 20-30K in cash to guys like that just to get a meeting in the EOM. It was such a raquet that it was impossible to get anything done. Fenty like him or hate him, will meet with anyone. Most people that I know that donated money to him are pissed that he won't go out of his way to help. It is a couple of scumbags that broke thru that wall and take advantage of the fact that Fenty is aloof from individual deals. So, when i hear people remembering the good old days.....I want to puke. Fenty is far from perfect. He has done, from my veiwpoint, some dumb things. However, corrupt? Not by Barry, Williams, or Kelly standards? Not by Gray's standards. Come on, the guy put a request for 20k on council stationary. (If fenty had done that, Gray would be jumping up and down Penn Ave.) Not by Susan Pecks standards. NO WAY!!!! If so, there are a whole lot of financial supporters that want to know where all this favortism is. I know for a fact that many of his closest supporters haven't gotten a thing. So, on one hand, supporters say that he won't help them. On the other, opponents claim that he is handing out contracts like peanuts. It can't be both. I am sorry. But people need to wake up to the fact that the same old Pimps are trying to lure us back into the good-old days. The days, where there are more back room pay-offs than in Ghana or Nigeria. Fenty has made mistakes. But, he is not nearly the skilled crook that Gray, Barry, Chavious, and otheres like them have been. At least Fenty is trying to do something. They are just trying to get paid for nothing. Sorry for the personal rant. I do respect your opinion.

Posted by: politicalrealist | November 23, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

RIGHT- Cropps gonna crush Fenty. I remember that one as well when the crack smoking old school said "No Chance!!!" Then somehow someway Cropp went ADIOS with out a chance.

Posted by: gladtoliveindc | November 23, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Black people want the real deal! Vote Gray 2010! Vote for change.

Posted by: PRIDE-INC | November 23, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

A lot of people say Gray is a user. I don't know if he is or he isn't, but at this point, I KNOW how bad Fenty is and I am willing to take a chance that Gray will be an improvement. At least Gray will probably get rid of all those creepy Fenty people....

Posted by: tm7333 | November 23, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

politicalrealist is a Fenty troll, plain as day - threw in a few negatives to try to steer us off the course. The Fenty team must be very afraid of Gray, who hasn't even declared, to pull someone like politicalrealist out at this early point in the campaign.

Posted by: efavorite | November 23, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Politicalrealist, I don't claim to have all of the answers but when I know something, I know it. Fenty is all I said above and then some. While I didn't advocate for Gray specifically in what I posted earlier, if he was the only person running against Fenty, I'd vote for Gray all day long. There is no way in my mind he could be worse than Fenty. That said, Michael Brown would be a fine choice. One thing I say without a single reservation: FENTY HAS TO GO!!

Posted by: southyrndiva | November 23, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Quite frankly, I wish that the someone I could feel comfortable with was some one other than Gray. I've have not forgotten his voting pattern. I have not forgotten how many times he could have proven himself but let us down as sure as sunset. To beat Fenty, we can't have split voting. It's got to be one who has a serious chance. I'll vote for Gray as an anti Fenty vote, but I don't like saying that. I'd prefer to feel ok about my candidate. In the meantime, don't sign the petitions for Fenty. Make him go to write in. Oknow: I've been told that Gray's house is on Branch.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 23, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

My BIGGEST issue with Mayor Fenty is "who surrounds him"! You would not believe the ego maniacs that love to come to events or address the residents in his name and as his spokesperson. They always couch everything that they say or do by stating "I work for the Mayor". They hire and fire with impunity and then utilize their relationship with the Mayor as the justifiable reason; are they managers, yes! Managers that are ONLY managers because he is the Mayor…they would never make it in the private sector or federal sector because in the private sector they are expected to actually know the job; in federal sector they are expected to follow the federal laws with respect the human resources. If I had any advice for the Mayor, it would be to meet with his constituents and ask, "What has made you feel so disenfranchised and alienated by me and/or my administration. What can I do to turn it around? He needs to remember that most of DC voted for him the first time and now we feel dismissed by this Mayor and his administration. I was a Fenty "FAN-atic" and the way that his staff and those that he holds close in his inner-circle are allowed to treat the residents is unacceptable or should be by the Mayor's standards. But when he stands by their tactics and their behavior, they it makes one question his commitment to the residents. At this point I am one of the 22% who is undecided.

Posted by: lacairaine | November 23, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

The District is doomed. Fatherless welfare garbage rule. No one can extract it from the morass and parasitism. Godhelp us all.

Posted by: tjhall1 | November 23, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

That's a 4% lead without any advertising :-)

Posted by: starclimber9 | November 23, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

politicalrealist You have an interesting way to read a poll. That large number of undecided is usually bad for the incumbent. Meaning they know about him and won't go in his direction. At that point they don't typically come back. It says Gray has to make his case. He is pretty good on paper. The scandal...didnt stick as far as picking up thread with people because was explainable and Gray got out in front of it. Plus Gray grandstanding is nothing compared to Fenty's fauxpas. Gray can get a smart strategy of only speak when spoken to...Fenty will bury himself.

Posted by: 411Tibby | November 23, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Oh, so this is why the "Fenty" signs are sprouting around town. He's scared. Fenty, ever the man-child, only knows how to run, not how to work, let alone how to govern. I know almost nothing about Gray, but he--or anyone who runs against Adrian Fenty--has got my vote. Anyone who can even potentially start to clean up the corruption and cronyism, and the promotion of incompetence (Gloria Nauden, q.v.; police department q.v.v.) has got my vote, my campaign contributions, and my time. (Caveat: this does NOT apply to Michael Brown, low-life juvenile and ignorant narcissicism incarnate.) Go, Chairman Gray!

Posted by: SydneyP | November 23, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Dear Adrian, Just a few short years ago we loved your fresh face and clean upbeat approach to government. However, it now appears that you are simply another corrupt politician who belongs in jail. It is time for you to go! Sincerely, A District Voter

Posted by: ashafer_usa | November 23, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Southern Diva, i repect your response. I understand how you feel. efavorite, You caught me. I just got home from my meeting with Neil Albert and Peter nickles discussing our blog Strategy. Rhee will be briefing me in the morning on talking points for the Kevin Johnson issue. My work is never done. Hey, do you think Gray can write a note for me on council stationary to get them to give me a day off? All BS aside, who is the real troll here? There is a faction that wants Fenty out no matter what. They believe half of what said about him and make up the other half. Cool. That is your perogative Bobby Brown. Just don't think that everyone is willing to smoke that pipe with you. Fenty doesn't need me to win. That is going to happen without me. First, he is a much stronger campaigner than Gray, Brown, Brown, and anybody else in dc politics. He trains year round so that he can knock on doors and ask people for their vote. Ask any career campainger or salesman about the power of face to face contact. As we are running our mouths, and people are calling potential voters on the phone. He is sitting in an old lady's living room in ward 8 (in a neighborhood Gray would be scared to walk into without security) explaining his positions. He writes down their conserns and dispatches someone to handle them. Then, get this, he keeps his promise. A fixed sidewalk and trimmed trees go a long way. Especially when you write down the adress and send someone to take them to the polls. That is politics. Doesn't matter whethere it is Chicago, DC, New York, Calcuta. That is why the Daley's have run Chicago for decades in a majority black city. It is why Fenty has made a living beating the tar out of old school lazy politicians. Good luck beating that! Ain't going to happen. And, for the record, I am going to vote for Fenty. One, Kwame isn't ready but he will be in five years. Two, I am tired of seeing my people sentenced to a life of poverty because they consistently fall for the self-serving non-sence of career poverty pimps like Barry, Gray, Sharpe James, William Jefferson and others. Now troll that back to your boss that really does have blog stategies. And make sure that next time...he pays for the repairs before the news gets a hold of the story. His "holier than thou" persona would be more believable. ANY ONE BUT GRAY!!!!!

Posted by: politicalrealist | November 24, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: shank2sb | November 24, 2009 2:22 AM | Report abuse

Well if he knocks on my door, he get's a fresh hot cup of FU from me and then a slammed door. Don't sign the petitions!!!

Posted by: candycane1 | November 24, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Fenty's demographic support caught my eye: White, male, under 50. I'm White, male and under 50 and I have NO intention of voting for him. He's corrupt, arrogant and power hungry.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | November 24, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

All BS aside, politicalrealist, if there's a troll here, you would be a pretty good one - trying out all the pro-Fenty, anti-Gray talking points.


Posted by: efavorite | November 24, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

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