The scandal that's slowly taking down the upper echelons of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray's 2010 mayoral campaign has decimated Gray's personal and political appeal -- just 29 percent approve of Gray's job performance, while 34 percent say they view him favorably (and 56 percent see him unfavorably), according to a Washington Post poll out this week.
But don't give up hope, Mr. Mayor: District voters are forgiving types. That same poll demonstrated as much. After Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has a 72 percent favorable rating, the most popular elected official in the District is ... Marion Barry.
Yes, that Marion Barry. Barry's favorable rating stands at 52 percent, nearly 20 points higher than any of his city council colleagues (Hat tip to D.C. political strategist Chuck Thies for catching that one).
More evidence that all can be forgiven: Suddenly, former Mayor Adrian Fenty is remembered fondly. Nearly six in ten voters say they approve of the way Fenty handled his job as mayor. Fenty lost his job to Gray in 2010 by a 54 percent to 44 percent margin.
I wrote about the District's evolving political climate in this week's National Journal Magazine. Subscribers can read all about it here. A taste:
Perhaps no city in America suffers the same kind of collective schizophrenia as Washington. One half is what novelist Allen Drury called "a city of temporaries, a city of just-arriveds and only-visitings, built on the shifting sands of politics, filled with people passing through." The other is a city with deep communal roots, home of three or four generations of one of the nation's first black middle-class communities. It is a city in which Capitol Hill staffers now dine out at fancy restaurants on H Street Northeast and U Street Northwest, the same streets that burned during riots after the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Increasingly, those two Washingtons are vying for political power at City Hall. At a time when the nation's white population is declining as a share of the electorate, Washington is on an ironically opposite track, with a growing population of white liberals who live east of Rock Creek Park and in new apartment complexes spread throughout neighborhoods colloquially referred to as "emerging," and a shrinking African-American population that maintains deep roots in the city's northeast quadrant and the wards east of the Anacostia River.