Fenty May Face Tough Race in 2010: Poll

Majority of DC voters want new mayor

Looks like D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty is in for a tough fight for his job next year.

According to a Clarus poll of registered D.C. voters, just more than a third want Fenty to serve another term. Apparently the mayor's controversial, big-boss-style reign has lost him some support.

Fenty's disapproval rating is 49 percent, and 53 percent said they would like to see someone else in office. The mayor's numbers are especially poor among black voters, with only 22 percent saying they'd like to reelect him, compared to 51 percent of white voters.

"We will continue to take no one and nothing for granted," Fenty said. "We are engaging voters at their doorsteps and in their neighborhoods throughout the District of Columbia and will do so with great vigor over the next 10-and-a-half months."

Head-to-head with D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray, Fenty trails 41 percent to 37 percent, with 22 percent undecided. Gray's approval rating is 46 percent with a disapproval rating of 16 percent and 38 percent undecided.

"The fact that Vincent Gray beats the incumbent in a head-to-head race even though 38 percent of voters citywide don't know enough about him to rate his job performance is an indication that a good bit of Gray’s support is primarily an anti-Fenty vote,” said Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus.

But when you add some more candidates to the mix, the mayor comes out on top. In a four-way mock Democratic primary, Fenty's got the lead, with 34 percent to Gray's 24 percent, Councilman Kwame Brown's 13 percent and Councilman Michael Brown's 6 percent, with 23 percent undecided.

Gray, whose mayoral hopes may have been derailed by last week's ethics questions, said Monday that he's pleased with the results of the poll.

"There is no greater calling than public service," he said. "And I am honored to serve the city in which I was born, raised and live.  I look forward to even higher ratings, no matter what elected position I hold."

The poll did not pit Fenty against non-council candidate Leo Alexander, a former News4 reporter who works in insurance sales and is active in the Brightwood Civic Association and the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations. Nor did it rate a third Brown candidate -- Sulaimon Brown, who volunteered for the Fenty campaign but no longer supports the mayor.

Fenty faired well on the issues of city cleanliness and safety (68 percent and 54 percent approval, respectively). He had less than majority but better than 40 percent approval on taxes, education, keeping in touch with citizens, creating jobs and strong leadership. On taxes, jobs and education, his approval rating was higher than his disapproval rating.

"I am proud of the progress we've made since January 2007, whether it's beginning the critical reform of our public schools, reducing violent crime citywide or bringing responsible development into our great neighborhoods, but we cannot rest on the improvements we've made thus far, and I am committed to work with every resident to make the District of Columbia a world class city," Fenty said.

While Fenty's numbers don't look very good, his biggest hires are doing better. Police Chief Cathy Lanier's numbers are great, in fact, with an approval rating of 71 percent.

Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's approval rating is only 47 percent, but that beats her disapproval rating of 39 percent. Though she's criticized almost as much as Fenty, her national recognition from the likes of Time, Education Next and Oprah seems to be offsetting her detractors.

Clarus polled a scientific sampling of 501 self-identified registered voters by telephone last week (Nov. 15-18). There's a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

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