Despite Scandal, Vincent Gray Leads Democratic Candidates in D.C. Mayoral Race

A new poll shows voters’ confidence in Washington’s future and less concern with Gray’s trustworthiness.

National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
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Matt Vasilogambros
Jan. 14, 2014, 7:35 a.m.

Time has been a friend to D.C. May­or Vin­cent Gray’s reelec­tion hopes.

A new Wash­ing­ton Post poll shows the in­cum­bent may­or of the cap­it­al city on top of the crowded Demo­crat­ic field, with nearly double the per­cent­age of the closest chal­lenger.

A year ago, it looked like Gray was doomed if he were to seek reelec­tion. Voters didn’t show con­fid­ence in the Dis­trict’s fu­ture, nor were they con­fid­ent in the may­or’s eth­ics fol­low­ing a 2010 cam­paign fin­ance scan­dal.

But now, the num­ber of voters that con­sider Gray hon­est and trust­worthy has gone up 10 per­cent­age points since the last poll in Ju­ly 2012, up to 32 per­cent. Still, 54 per­cent say he is un­trust­worthy. But the up­tick in pos­it­ive feel­ings is an im­prove­ment nev­er­the­less.

As is the num­ber of voters who think that D.C. is gen­er­ally go­ing in the right dir­ec­tion, polling at 59 per­cent. That num­ber in 2012 was at 40 per­cent. More than half the voters say Gray is do­ing an ex­cel­lent or good job at at­tract­ing new busi­ness to the Dis­trict, re­du­cing crime in the city, and im­prov­ing city ser­vices. However, only 38 per­cent of voters think the may­or is do­ing a good job at im­prov­ing pub­lic schools.

Still, the 2010 scan­dal is on the minds of 43 per­cent of voters, who say it will be a ma­jor factor at the bal­lot. That’s a num­ber that the large field of can­did­ates might be able to work with dur­ing the April 1 primary.

The nearest chal­lenger is former Ad­ri­an Fenty con­fid­ante Mur­i­el Bow­ser, sit­ting at second place with 12 per­cent of the vote. The two ma­jor white can­did­ates for may­or are just be­hind the coun­cil­wo­man with 11 per­cent each: Coun­cil­men Jack Evans and Tommy Wells.

Twenty-three per­cent of voters either have no opin­ion or do not sup­port the field, and these people may be the voters who sway the elec­tion.

As for now, however, it does look like the Dis­trict’s eco­nom­ic im­prove­ments and Gray’s name re­cog­ni­tion might help the in­cum­bent win a second term, des­pite the scan­dal that once shook voters’ con­fid­ence.

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