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At-Large Councilmember Michael Brown has only a narrow five percentage point lead against largely unknown challenger David Grosso, according to a new poll commissioned by Washington City Paper and The Kojo Nnamdi Show.

The poll shows 26 percent of likely voters plan to vote for Brown, while 21 percent say they are with Grosso. A full 32 percent are still undecided. The poll purposely did not ask about Councilmember Vincent Orange, who has already won the Democratic primary and is considered a shoe-in to win one of the two open at-large seats in next month’s election. Both Brown and Grosso are registered as independents; one of the seats must go to a non-Democrat. The results for the other challengers:

Republican Mary Brooks Beatty: 9 percent

Statehood Green candidate Ann Wilcox: 5 percent

Independent A.J. Cooper: 7 percent

Independent Leon Swain: 1 percent

The margin of error for the poll, which was conducted by Public Policy Polling, is 2.8 percent. The survey was conducted Oct. 12-14 and surveyed 1,222 likely voters in the District. Do note that the last time LL’s bosses hired this polling company, they predicted that Vince Gray would beat Adrian Fenty by 11 points. Gray beat Fenty by 10 points.

Given the margin of error, Brown and Grosso are essentially in a statistical tie. If that surprises you, given the fact that Brown is the well-known son of former Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown while Grosso is a little-known former council aide, you probably aren’t alone. It appears the steady stream of negative news following Brown, particularly the missing $113,000 in campaign funds, has taken a toll on Brown’s chances for re-election. LL will have a greater breakdown of the poll numbers and the possible explanations behind those figures next week.

The poll shows a similar geographic and racial split to the ones that have appeared in other recent D.C. elections. Grosso’s winning white voters 39-10 (with 29 percent undecided), while Brown is winning black voters 43-7 (also with 29 percent undecided). Grosso’s doing best in Ward 2 (where he gets 25 percent), Ward 3 (26 percent), and Ward 6 (37 percent), while Brown is strongest in Ward 4 (28 percent), Ward 5 (44 percent), Ward 7 (39 percent), and Ward 8 (46 percent).

Brown says he’s “pleased I’m in the lead” but questioned whether the poll was an accurate reflection because of Orange’s absence.

Grosso says the fact that he’s within striking distance with Brown represents a “huge victory,” and he’s confident he can close the gap between now and the election.

Meanwhile, Grosso also picked up the Washington Post‘s endorsement this morning, along with former D.C. Taxicab Commission Chairman Leon Swain.

The City Paper/Kojo Nnamdi Show poll also showed President Barack Obama handily beating Mitt Romney in the race for D.C.’s three electoral votes, 88 percent to 8 percent.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery