D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser is enjoying a wave of momentum in her fight to unseat Mayor Vincent Gray.
Last week a poll commissioned by WAMU's The Kojo Nnamdi Show and the Washington City Paper found Mayor Vincent Gray and Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) to be neck and neck in the race for mayor, and a new poll by The Washington Post confirms that it's a two-person race.
The poll finds the two in a statistical dead heat, with 30 percent of likely Democratic voters siding with Bowser, while Gray attracts 27 percent support. The KNS/WCP poll put both at 27 percent. Council member Tommy Wells polls at 14 percent, while Council member Jack Evans is tied with restaurant owner Andy Shallal at six percent.
The new Washington Poll post poll of 1,042 adults shows Bowser's continuing momentum. Gray, who is credited for his running of the city, has been hurt by the ongoing federal investigation into his 2010 mayoral campaign.
A January Post poll had Gray at 24 percent and Bowser at 12 percent, while a WAMU/NBC4/Marist poll in February saw the gap close slightly, with Gray polling at 28 percent and Bowser jumping to 20 percent.
Bowser's jump in the polls has been fueled in part by the guilty plea by D.C. businessman Jeffrey Thompson, who in early March admitted that he had orchestrated the illicit $653,000 "shadow campaign" to help Gray in 2010. After his plea, federal prosecutors claimed that Gray knew of the illegal effort, an accusation he has repeatedly denied.
Much like the KNS/WCP poll, the Post poll finds that the majority of likely voters believe Thompson over Gray, 62 to 23 percent. Seventy-six percent of voters say that his campaign has been fairly investigated, while almost 75 percent believe that Gray did something illegal or unethical during the 2010 campaign. Sixty-one percent say that he is not honest and trustworthy.
Still, Gray enjoys the strongest base, with two-thirds of his supporters saying they will definitely vote for him, as compared to 44 percent for Bowser. But as other polls have found, Bowser remains the top choice for residents who might change their vote on Election Day.
If Gray does pull off a victory on April 1, he will still face a significant challenge from Council member David Catania (I-At Large), who is running as an independent. If set against each other in November, Gray and Catania each draw 41 percent, while Catania would do more poorly against Bowser, with her taking 56 percent to his 23 percent.
Early voting is taking place at 13 voting centers across the city, and some 5,000 people have already cast ballots. The poll — which has a margin of error of 4.5 percent for registered voters and 6.5 percent for likely Democratic voters — finds that 54 percent of registered Democrats are certain to vote.