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Posted at 6:07 PM ET, 02/ 1/2011

January poll has Orange leading at-large D.C. Council race

By Mike DeBonis

UPDATED 8 P.M.

For the upcoming D.C. Council special election, some pundits might be looking at a two-way race between Sekou Biddle and Patrick Mara. But Vincent Orange still has some juice, leaked poll numbers indicate.

A survey of 476 likely voters that has been seen by several candidates shows former Council member Orange with a significant lead over the field, with 32 percent citywide support. Biddle has 12 percent, Mara 6 percent, Jacque Patterson 4 percent and Josh Lopez 3 percent. A full 43 percent of voters are undecided. The margin of error is 4.9 percent.

Caveat No. 1, and it's a big one, is that the poll is two weeks old. The survey was done between Jan. 12 and 14 by veteran D.C. pollster Ron Lester on behalf of a group of city business leaders. That predates Mara's official entry into the race, as well as that of Ward 1 activist Bryan Weaver.

Other caveats: With the high rate of undecideds, this is very clearly anyone's race. And Orange's support is softer among white voters -- who turned out more heavily than black voters in the last at-large special election, in 1997.

Among white respondents, Orange leads Biddle 19 percent to 16, with Mara taking 11 percent. Among black respondents, Orange has 43 percent support to Biddle's 9 percent and Patterson's 5 percent. While 38 percent of black voters are undecided, that goes for a full 50 percent of white voters.

UPDATE, 8 P.M.: The campaign finance filings due yesterday provide a more complete picture of the state of the race. Biddle leads the field with $53,123 in early fundraising from a diverse cast of business donors, with nearly all of it still in the bank. Patterson raised more than $20,000, drawing heavily on his Federal City Council connections, with $16,782 still in the bank. Little-known Arkan Haile, a Ward 7 lawyer running as an independent, raised $7,845, most of it from out of town. Lopez raised $8,640, much of it from Adrian Fenty loyalists. Mara raised $2,650 after a week in the race. Wayne Dickson, a Ward 2 businessman and activist, raised $350. And Orange, while his fundraising for his chairman's campaign was respectable, currently has nothing in the bank for his at-large run.

By Mike DeBonis  | February 1, 2011; 6:07 PM ET
Categories:  The District  
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