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D.C. poll finds mayoral race to be a virtual tie

The D.C. mayoral race is a near dead heat as candidates begin their final month of campaigning, according to a new independent poll.

Vincent Gray holds a slim lead over incumbent Adrian Fenty, 39 percent to 36 percent, Clarus Research Group determined in a live telephone poll of 501 registered Democrats. Among poll respondents who identified themselves as "very likely" to vote in the primary, Gray holds a slightly larger advantage -- 41 to 36 percent. In both cases, the proportion of undecided voters is more than 20 percent. The poll has a 4.4 percent margin of error.

"Gray now has the edge, but this race is far from over," said Clarus President Ron Faucheux in a release.

Washington City Paper reported Monday on a poll commissioned by business interests that showed Gray with an 8 point lead over Fenty, but many details about that poll and its sample were not made available to reporters.

In keeping with past polls, the Clarus numbers show a sharp racial divide, with Gray holding a 54 to 16 percent advantage among black voters, while Fenty holds a 61 to 19 percent advantage among white voters.

A poll done by Clarus in November found Fenty with 34 percent support in a hypothetical race that included council members Gray, Kwame Brown (D-At-Large), and Michael A. Brown (I-At-Large).

"Voter turnout could well determine the winner of the mayoral primary," the poll report [PDF] said. "A high white turnout is clearly Fenty's best path to victory. Conversely, a high African American turnout is Gray's best path to winning the primary."

Other candidates on the Democratic ballot -- Leo Alexander, Sulaimon Brown and Ernest Johnson -- have won minuscule support; Alexander polled at 2 percent overall and 1 percent among likely voters. Clarus also polled a head-to-head race between Fenty and Gray, finding that Gray upped his advantage to six points in that hypothetical race. The November poll found a four-point advantage for Gray.

Clarus also released numbers on the D.C. Council chairman race, finding that Kwame Brown holds a 10 point advantage over Vincent Orange in the Democratic primary -- 39 percent to 29 percent. State Board of Education member Dorothy Douglas won 3 percent support, with 29 percent undecided.

A survey of voter recognition reveals that more voters have learned about Vincent Gray, and for the most part, they like what they see. Clarus' November poll found that 38 percent of voters didn't know enough about the council chairman to form an opinion. The current poll found that 11 percent of respondents weren't familiar with Gray.

In a survey of voter approval, Fenty won a 49 percent approval rating to 41 percent disapproval -- a marked advantage since a November Clarus poll, which pegged his approval at 21 percent. Clarus did not release approval numbers for Gray, though 55 percent of poll respondents said they had a "favorable" opinion of him to 20 percent unfavorable. Fenty's favorable rating is only at 46 percent, with unfavorables at 42 percent.

Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee won slightly better numbers than Fenty, with approval running in her favor 50 percent to 35 percent. "Rhee gets positive marks from 80% of white women, her strongest demographic, and 25% from black women, her weakest demographic," the poll reports notes. And Police Chief Cathy Lanier, according to the report, "remains the undisputed champ of D.C. government" with 80 percent approval.

Polling calls were made Sunday and Monday -- after Fenty debuted negative ads attacking Gray's record. Poll results released by Clarus did not include any gauge of advertising's impact on the race. The sample consisted of 57 percent women to 43 percent men. Fifty-two percent of poll respondents identified themselves as African-American, with 40 percent white and 8 percent other. Clarus did not release details about the geographic distribution of the sample.

UPDATE, 1:35 P.M.: I've changed the headline of this post to reflect that Gray's lead is within the poll's margin of error. Some polling experts note a couple of other things to keep in mind: Clarus appears not to have polled cell phones, and a two-day poll leaves it susceptible to the absence of vacationers -- not a small issue when polling in D.C. in August.

By Mike DeBonis  |  August 18, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Adrian Fenty , DCision 2010 , The District , Vincent Gray  
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Next: In new TV ad, Fenty admits 'mistakes'

Comments

Here are my predictions.

Regardless of who wins the Mayor's race, DC Schools Chancellor Rhee will be married on September 4. Her honeymoon will last 2 weeks. aftr that, she will move to Sacramento, California to be with her husband, who is Sacramento's Mayor. This is a no-brainer prediction.

Gray will win the the Mayor's race. Fenty will move to New York and get a job on Wall Street that he has long desired. (Mayor Bloomberg will help him with that.)

In January of 2011, the Gray administration will cut-off the sweet-heart deals that the Fenty Administration has been providing to Peaceaholics. Peaceaholics Director, Ron Moten, who is a convicted crack cocaine dealer, will also move to Maryland.

Posted by: ObjectiveReader1 | August 18, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

What's still a real mystry is why the Washpo, mainly Ann, haven't written anything about the low, low, low AYP scores?

I think that number would have be lower for Ms. Rhee if this huge story was reported on.

Posted by: thelildiva4u | August 18, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I listen to NPR Kojo show and tried to get in. While I have not gotten anything from Gray, Fenty is not the man that DC needs. I taught his twins at a local swim facility in the city. Fenty would bring them, when other parents who had their kids taking swim class tried to speak to Fenty / Mayor, he was arrorgant and dismissive to the parents. Time for change.

Posted by: ggant | August 18, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Hmm. How's that Post endorsement working out for ya? Funny how the article failed to mention that the poll was taken after the Post's endorsement.

Posted by: PepperDr | August 18, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

After 4 years in office it is curious that with only 4 weeks until the primary that Fenty NOW chooses to admit he's made mistakes. Dude Fenty, you've made HUGE MISTAKES and it is time for you to go. If he had an ounce of class he'd drop out before the election. The people of DC deserve better than Fenty's corruption and arrogance.

Posted by: ashafer_usa | August 18, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Fenty has been dismissive of many many constituent groups since Day 1 in office. Many, if not most, of his policies were driven by his vindictive, aloof nature and that of Peter Nickles,his henchman. He's a goner now. Perhaps Bloomberg will find a spot for him in his empire. He certainly doesn't have the intelligence or capability to make it in NYC government.

Posted by: mrif | August 18, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm not surprised by this poll. This race is close and with 20%+ undecided, noone should be claiming victory yet.

I appreciated the Mayor's concession on the new ad and on this morning's debate that he hasn't made people feel like they are part of the process. I have had cause to deal with the Mayor per my work with a variety of community groups. I never found him dismissive. He not only listened but acted putting some of our recommendations into practice. We never saw or heard from Gray until this election cycle.

Posted by: RCDC | August 18, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

What I find unfortunate is how racially polarized the District has become under the Fenty Administration. The racial divide is even playing out in these comments. While blacks folks did not embrace Williams in general, his approval rating were much higher than Fenty. Hell, he won a write-in election! I believe a lot of black folks feel betrayed by Fenty. He ran as a young populist candidate and became a public figure most did not recognize after winning. I do believe his days are numbered. With 4 years of Williams accomplishments under his belt, it's amazing Fenty is only registering 36% of the vote less than 4 weeks before the primary. Yes voter turnout will be huge but remember Wards 4 and 7 had stronger turnout than Ward 3 in 2006.

Posted by: roscoedc | August 18, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

I've been a frequent visitor to the District for ten years, and a resident for two months.

The rest of the country is rolling its eyes at the prospect of bring back Marion Barry and his cronies as Gray advisors. Fenty may be arrogant, but Gray is seen as Barry's yes-boy. Who does he know besides the old guard? Barry's arrogance makes Fenty's social skills issues laughable.

The schools and the infrastructure of the District cannot recover without the monetary and emotional investment of the middle class of all complexions. Until the schools and the material world in DC improve, the very rich and the very poor will continue to dominate the area -- and that makes the graft and sleaze of the Barry years even more dangerous to the city in the future than it was destructive in the past.

There is a hegemony of incompetence and personal greed that has become DC's ethos. Fenty has at least challenged that tradition (even imperfect as his performance may have been). The Gray cabal says they want to return to the good old days - tragic payola.

I don't love Fenty, but am voting against Gray. Too much of the city's absentee slumdom has his signs in the front yard.

Posted by: practica1 | August 18, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

The Clarus Research Group (CRG) finds the DC mayoral race to be a virtual tie. While the Washington Post chose CRG, their polling accuracy is far below other national polling organizations. On October 31, 2009, CRG reported that, in Virginia, McDonnell had an eight point lead and Rasmussen reported that McDonnell had a 13 point lead in the gubernatorial race. McDonnell won by a 18 point margin. In fact, CRG reported one of the two lowest margins of victory for McDonnell. GRC was ore than 50% wrong in their poling results. You can judge whether the CRG poll is accurate in the DC mayoral race.

Here is the polling data from all of the polling organizations for the November 2009 gubernatorial race in Virginia.
Final Poll Results Heading Into Election Day
Posted on October 31, 2009 by Riley
Barring any last minute polls released on Monday, here is what the final polls showed. We’ll see who the most accurate was on Tuesday night.
Rasmussen Reports
10/27 – 10/27 1000 LV 54 41 McDonnell +13
Daily Kos/R2000
10/26 – 10/28 600 LV 54 44 McDonnell +10
Suffolk University
10/26 – 10/28 400 LV 54 40 McDonnell +14
Roanoke College
10/21 – 10/27 569 LV 53 36 McDonnell +17
SurveyUSA
10/25 – 10/26 502 LV 58 41 McDonnell +17
PPP (D)
10/23 – 10/26 729 LV 55 40 McDonnell +15
Washington Post
10/22 – 10/25 1206 LV 55 44 McDonnell +11
VCU
10/21 – 10/25 625 LV 54 36 McDonnell +18
Clarus Research
10/18 – 10/19 605 LV 49 41 McDonnell +8
Virginian-Pilot/CNU
10/8 – 10/13 506 LV 45 31 McDonnell +14
Mason-Dixon
10/6 – 10/8 625 LV 48 40 McDonnell +8

These polls result in a Virginia Virtucon poll average of a 13.2% lead for Bob McDonnell. If we are to remove the oldest three polls that were all taken before 10/21, McDonnell’s average increases to 14.4%.
You’ll notice that Creigh “What’s In Your Wallet?” Deeds only reached as high as 44 percent in two polls — the Daily Kos and WashPo. If undecideds who actually vote break for McDonnell as part of a bandwagon effect, Deeds may go down in history as having received the lowest vote total of any Democrat candidate for governor of Virginia in the past 40 years. Conversely, if that happens, McDonnell stands a chance of besting the record set by George Allen in 1993 for the highest vote total of any Republican candidate in the past 40 years. It is conceivable, but by no means certain, that McDonnell could garner 59-60 percent of the vote on Tuesday night.

Posted by: ajmilligan | August 19, 2010 12:08 AM | Report abuse

The Clarus Research Group (CRG) finds the DC mayoral race to be a virtual tie. While the Washington Post chose CRG, their polling accuracy is far below other national polling organizations. On October 31, 2009, CRG reported that, in Virginia, McDonnell had an eight point lead and Rasmussen reported that McDonnell had a 13 point lead in the gubernatorial race. McDonnell won by a 18 point margin. In fact, CRG reported one of the two lowest margins of victory for McDonnell. GRC was ore than 50% wrong in their poling results. You can judge whether the CRG poll is accurate in the DC mayoral race.

Here is the polling data from all of the polling organizations for the November 2009 gubernatorial race in Virginia.
Final Poll Results Heading Into Election Day
Posted on October 31, 2009 by Riley
Barring any last minute polls released on Monday, here is what the final polls showed. We’ll see who the most accurate was on Tuesday night.
Rasmussen Reports
10/27 – 10/27 1000 LV 54 41 McDonnell +13
Daily Kos/R2000
10/26 – 10/28 600 LV 54 44 McDonnell +10
Suffolk University
10/26 – 10/28 400 LV 54 40 McDonnell +14
Roanoke College
10/21 – 10/27 569 LV 53 36 McDonnell +17
SurveyUSA
10/25 – 10/26 502 LV 58 41 McDonnell +17
PPP (D)
10/23 – 10/26 729 LV 55 40 McDonnell +15
Washington Post
10/22 – 10/25 1206 LV 55 44 McDonnell +11
VCU
10/21 – 10/25 625 LV 54 36 McDonnell +18
Clarus Research
10/18 – 10/19 605 LV 49 41 McDonnell +8
Virginian-Pilot/CNU
10/8 – 10/13 506 LV 45 31 McDonnell +14
Mason-Dixon
10/6 – 10/8 625 LV 48 40 McDonnell +8

These polls result in a Virginia Virtucon poll average of a 13.2% lead for Bob McDonnell. If we are to remove the oldest three polls that were all taken before 10/21, McDonnell’s average increases to 14.4%.
You’ll notice that Creigh “What’s In Your Wallet?” Deeds only reached as high as 44 percent in two polls — the Daily Kos and WashPo. If undecideds who actually vote break for McDonnell as part of a bandwagon effect, Deeds may go down in history as having received the lowest vote total of any Democrat candidate for governor of Virginia in the past 40 years. Conversely, if that happens, McDonnell stands a chance of besting the record set by George Allen in 1993 for the highest vote total of any Republican candidate in the past 40 years. It is conceivable, but by no means certain, that McDonnell could garner 59-60 percent of the vote on Tuesday night.

Posted by: ajmilligan | August 19, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

It's funny how newcomers (2 months) know sooooo much about Gray and so little about Fenty. I really believe ageism is at play here. Gray has only been on the Council for 6 short years. There is no record of him being a "yes" man to Barry. In fact, last year he censured Barry for his contract escapades with a girlfriend. "Going back to the ol' days" would be the cronyism and corruption found in the Fenty Administration. I know it's an enticing narrative, "the old guy wants to take us back to the old days" but there's no record of this. None of us are entitled to our on special brand of facts.

Posted by: roscoedc | August 19, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

"Gray cabal?" Gray as Marion Barry's "yes-man?" Careful, practica1, your bias is showing. Practica1 seems to believe that Gray would bring in Marion Barry's people as his advisors. An astonishing comment considering that it was Barry who threw his strong support, people and network in Ward 8 to help Fenty during the last mayoral campaign--over his fellow colleague, untainted city council chair colleague Linda Cropp.

Posted by: TheHermit1 | August 19, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

By the way, why isn't this poll in today's hard copy of the Post? If it was in last evening's tv newscasts, why wouldn't be [at least] on the front page of the Metro section? Strange.

Posted by: TheHermit1 | August 19, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

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