Who knew losing an election could be this much fun?

Relegated by primary voters to a sort of citywide friendly uncle role, Vince Gray spends his lame duck days joking with reporters, meeting dignitaries, and cutting ribbons. Looming over it all, though, is the mayor’s potential next career move: federal defendant. As the investigation into Gray’s 2010 campaign lurches towards its fourth year, District voters can’t decide what should become of the mayor. The Washington City Paper/Kojo Nnamdi Show poll finds voters almost evenly divided on whether Gray should be indicted.

A quarter of poll respondents favor indicting Gray before he leaves office, while 18 percent support indicting him after he leaves office in January, for a total of 43 percent in favor of an indictment. A total of 40 percent polled favored letting the mayor off, with 29 percent saying there’s not enough evidence he did anything wrong and 11 percent saying Gray has already been sufficiently punished by his primary loss. Sixteen percent of respondents weren’t sure.

Who you’re backing in the race to replace Gray also shows how you feel about federal charges against the mayor, even though both leading candidates called on him to resign over the 2010 shadow campaign. Muriel Bowser handed Gray an 11-point primary defeat, but voters who are sticking with her in the general election favor letting Gray off: 49 percent of Bowser voters oppose indicting Gray, while 36 percent support it.

David Catania supporters feel the opposite and favor an indictment of Gray, 61 percent to 28 percent. That’s even while their candidate has moved away from his hard line on Gray, courting the mayor’s voters by saying that U.S. Attorney Ron Machen treated Gray unfairly by dropping a guilty plea from shadow-campaign financier Jeff Thompson just weeks before the primary. The same racial divide in the mayor’s race is present in the debate over whether to charge Gray. Only 29 percent of black voters favor indicting Gray, while 61 percent of white voters support it.

Of course, there’s one person who decides whether Gray will be indicted: Machen himself. And for now, he’s not talking.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery