Gray campaign survey shows him with early lead
This post was updated at 5:41 p.m.
D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray leads incumbent Adrian M. Fenty in this year's mayor's race among voters who have already decided who they are supporting, according to a telephone survey conducted by the Gray campaign.
Between May 14 and 18, the Gray campaign hired Stones Phones to call about 18,500 District Democrats who have participated in at least two of the last three citywide Democratic primaries. The caller asked respondents whom they planned to vote for in the mayor's race.
Based on those calls, the firm found slightly fewer than 10,000 voters who it identified as either supporting Fenty or Gray or were undecided.
A source with access to the information released the findings to the Washington Post Tuesday. The documents show a breakdown of the results, including undecided voters, by ward and zip codes.
Mo Elleithee, a Gray strategist, said the campaign did not authorize the release of the information. Elleithee said the survey was not scientific and was not designed to reflect the mood of the electorate.
About 5,000 respondents said they were voting for Fenty or Gray, while the other half stated they were undecided. According to campaign strategists, it's common for internal campaign voter identification programs to find large numbers of undecided voters. The Gray campaign commissioned the survey to try to locate its supporters so it can follow up with them at a later date to encourage them to vote.
Among respondents who have already made up their minds, Gray leads Fenty by a margin of 57.8 percent to 42.2 percent, according to the survey documents.
"No one in the campaign would argue we have a 15 point lead and that is why no one should read that much into this data," Elleithee said.
But Elleithee added "its very encouraging" for the campaign to "know it has so many supporters identified at this point in the campaign."
"It allows us to go out and get them involved," he said.
Although they should be viewed with skepticism, the results in individual wards track the current conventional wisdom about where Gray and Fenty run the strongest.
Gray is ahead of Fenty in the survey among voters who expressed a preference by between 40 and 60 points in Wards 7 and 8 east of the Anacastia River. The Gray campaign also discovered broad support in Ward 5 in Northeast, where nearly 8 out of 10 respondents who identified who they were voting for chose the chairman over Fenty.
Only in Wards 2 and 3, did more voters chose Fenty over Gray. But Gray still broke 30 percent in both wards among those voters who expressed a preference for either candidate.
Still, with half of all respondents surveyed undecided, the race for mayor remains up for grabs.
--- Tim Craig
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