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Debate! Poll! What a week for Mayoral Power RankingsWhen last we left the Power RankingsMuriel Bowser sat on top of the pile. This week…

1. Muriel Bowser

What: LL’s always looking to upend the Power Rankings, but Bowser quashed that this week in the new NBC4/Washington Post poll, coming out 17 percent ahead of nearest opponent David Catania. With only six weeks left until election day, Bowser looks to have the race nearly locked down.

“I’m pretty sure they would both like to be in my place,” Bowser tells LL.

Why: Bowser and her rivals met for the first time in a debate last night, and Bowser came off pretty well. She certainly avoided producing the kind of catastrophic debate performance that Catania needs from her if he’s going to narrow the gap.

Still, LL continues to be baffled by Bowser’s inability to handle questions about her accomplishments. Bowser has had multiple ugly run-ins with reporters on this seemingly innocuous question, first with DCist, and this week with the Post. Even though everyone realizes this is Bowser’s weakness, she still apparently hasn’t come up with a pat response for it. Last night, Bowser stumbled over a debate question about her signature achievement, eventually choosing the obvious answer anyway: her ethics bill.

Power Rankings Momentum: Solid.

2. Carol Schwartz

What: It’s not quite Carolmentum, but Schwartz’s 16 percent pull in the new poll pulls her well out of joke candidate territory, especially given how comparatively slim her campaign and bank account are. It also puts her in the best place she can hope for: as a spoiler for Catania’s mayoral chances.

Why: Schwartz’s grudge against Catania got a workout last night, with Schwartz lambasting him for his former job with a company that had District contracts. When it came to the real fights of the debate between Bowser and Catania, though, Schwartz was on the sidelines.

Also less effective for Schwartz: her claim that, if she hadn’t been a Republican, she probably would have been the mayor already.

Power Rankings Momentum: Rising.

3. David Catania

What: LL’s not sure if the Catania campaign slipped him a Valium before the debate, but the sometimes hot-headed candidate seemed downright reserved in last night’s debate even as Bowser and Schwartz whaled on him.

Why: The new poll puts cold water on Catania’s electoral hopes—-and his chances of wooing Democratic bigwigs who don’t like Bowser, but don’t want to stick up for a losing candidate.

Still, Catania claims that he’s sticking with his own campaign poll, which put him statistically tied with Bowser. Last night, Catania claimed that he believes the race is still “very close.”

Catania’s dispute with the NBC 4/Post poll boils down to the difference between asking poll respondents whether they’ll vote or pre-selecting voters using a polling firm’s own criteria to create a more likely “likely voter” metric. It’s a complicated polling question that apparently has something to it.

Power Rankings Momentum: Falling.

Honorable Mentions: The D.C. GOP, which made some mayor’s race news this week without even running a candidate. Attorney general candidate Paul Zukerberg, who’s managed to convert his legal battle for the attorney general election into a slim lead over his opponents. And of course, marijuana.

Did LL get it wrong? Send your alternate Power Rankings to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com.

Photos by Darrow Montgomery