Poll Shows Statistical Tie in D.C. Mayor's Race

Gray has slim lead, within margin of error

A new poll from Clarus Research Group shows a very tight race in the pivotal D.C. Democratic mayoral primary with less than one month to go.

Among all voters, Council Chairman Vincent Gray is at 39 percent, Mayor Adrian Fenty 36 percent, Leo Alexander two percent, Sulaimon Brown one percent, and Ernest Johnson zero percent.

Among those who say they are very likely to vote, Gray has a slightly larger lead: 41 percent to Fenty’s 36. In both sets, about one-fifth of voters remain undecided.

The poll’s biggest non-surprise: Fenty is far ahead of Gray among white voters (61 percent to 19), while Gray has a big lead among black voters (54 percent to 16).

The telephone poll of 501 registered Democrats has a 4.4 percent margin of error, meaning the race is more or less a tie. So how will the undecideds break?

Generally, voters who are undecided close to Election Day tend to break about two to one for the challenger. The Clarus poll shows 46 percent of all respondents have a favorable impression of Fenty, while 42 percent view him unfavorably. For Gray, those numbers break 55 percent favorable, 20 percent unfavorable. This indicates the undecided voters could ultimately tip in Gray’s direction.

The Gray campaign said via Twitter this morning, "We’re delighted by the new poll results!"

On the other hand, schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, who is closely associated with Fenty, is viewed favorably by half of respondents, and unfavorably by 35 percent, while Fenty’s police chief Cathy Lanier has an 80 percent favorable ratiing. As Clarus President Ron Faucheux said, "Gray now has the edge, but this race is far from over."

A recent poll by Successful Capitol Strategies showed Gray with an eight-point lead over Fenty. That poll showed Gray with a 72 percent favorable rating, while Fenty was viewed favorably by slightly less than half.

Clarus Research Group also asked about the race for D.C. Council Chair. In that race, Kwame Brown is at 39 percent, Vincent Orange 29 percent, and Dorothy Douglas three percent. While Brown leads among both black and white voters, there is one big difference: Just 19 percent of black voters are undecided in that race, and Brown leads Orange 47 to 29. A full 42 percent of white voters are undecided; Brown leads Orange 31 to 28. 

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