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Poll Puts Gray Ahead Of All Challengers In Primary, But General Election Is Tighter

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Mayor Vincent Gray faces eight challengers in the fight for D.C.'s top office.
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Mayor Vincent Gray faces eight challengers in the fight for D.C.'s top office.

Mayor Vincent Gray is polling at twice his closest competitor in the Democratic mayoral primary, according to a new poll published today by The Washington Post. Regardless, his march towards re-election might not be all that easy.

According to the poll, 24 percent of respondents said that if the primary were held today, they would vote for Gray. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) polled at 12 percent, while Council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) each attracted 11 percent.

Council member Vincent Orange (D-At Large) received nine percent support, restaurant owner Andy Shallal polled at five percent and former State Department official Reta Jo Lewis and contractor Christian Carter each claimed one percent. Twenty-three percent of respondents said they were undecided or would not vote.

But even if Gray cruises past the competition in April, he might face a tighter race in the November general election. In a match-up against Council member David Catania (I-At Large), who is exploring a run, Gray only posted a "statistically insignificant" lead of 43 to 40. Catania has said that he will decide on whether to enter the race by before the April primary.

In many ways, the poll of 1,003 Democrats and residents who would register as Democrats is a big turnaround for Gray, with respondents saying that they not only happy with the city's direction, but happier than they were in July 2012. On improving city service, satisfaction with Gray polled at 41 percent in 2012 and now reaches 53 percent. On job creation, approval of Gray jumped from 26 to 45 percent.

All told, 59 percent of respondents said that D.C. is on the right track, up from 40 percent in July 2012. In that poll, over half of respondents said Gray should resign.

But the survey also shows that Gray is vulnerable: nearly three-quarters of voters polled say the ongoing campaign finance investigation into Gray’s 2010 campaign will be a major or minor factor in how they vote. Additionally, though the number of respondents saying they trust him has increased, it still only stands at 32 percent.

The Post further delves into the numbers, finding that Gray's base among African American voters remains strong:

Gray’s path to victory looks much the same as it did in 2010, particularly if the field remains splintered. He retains his strongest support east of the Anacostia River, where 34 percent of voters support him — 10 points higher than his support among registered voters overall.

About one-third of African American voters support Gray, with only Bowser and Orange also reaching double digits in that group. Among white voters, Gray (8 percent) runs behind Wells (23 percent), Evans (15 percent) and Shallal (12 percent), and is about even with Bowser (9 percent).

Gray also wins outsized support among those with a high-school education or less and among those making less than $50,000 a year, garnering the support of one-third of voters in each group.

Another group with which Gray does particularly well: Nearly four in 10 voters who cite economic inequality as a major concern favor him for re-election by more than 20 points over his competition — an indication that his “One City” campaign theme continues to strike a chord with voters.

The primary is scheduled for April 1.
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