Tomorrow’s dead-tree edition of Washington City Paper will be chock full of news about next week’s primary elections, especially the mayor’s race between Vincent Gray and Adrian Fenty. One highlight: a poll sponsored by City Paper and WAMU-FM’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show that looks at what D.C. voters think about the candidates and the city. The robo-call poll was done by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm based in North Carolina that’s been getting some buzz this year for predicting results in other states.

Here’s a preview of what we found:

  • In the mayor’s race, Gray leads Fenty 50-39, with 9 percent undecided. Which means that even if Fenty won over every undecided voter in our survey, he’d still lose. Leo Alexander had 1 percent, as did Ernest Johnson. Sulaimon Brown had less than 1 percent.
  • In the D.C. Council chairman’s race, Kwame Brown leads Vincent Orange, 48-27, with 18 percent undecided. Dorothy Douglas got 7 percent.

We also asked a few questions designed to go a little deeper than just who’s winning and who’s losing. Since Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee has been so polarizing, we asked how important she was to voters’ decision about who to support. The answers:

  • 33 percent said Rhee was “crucial” to their decision.
  • 20 percent called her “very important.”
  • 18 percent called her “somewhat important.”
  • 29 percent said she was “not at all important.”

One question looked at yet another polarizing figure in D.C. politics: former Mayor Marion Barry, now a Ward 8 councilmember.

  • 20 percent said Barry “should be respected as ‘Mayor for Life’ and celebrated as a civil rights hero.”
  • 36 percent said Barry “should remain in politics as long as he likes and is re-elected.”
  • 32 percent said Barry “should retire gracefully and go away from public life.”
  • 7 percent said Barry “should still be in jail.”
  • 5 percent weren’t sure what they thought of him.

The poll was conducted Aug. 30-Sept. 1, surveying 802 registered Democrats with a margin of error of plus/minus 3.5 percent. (We chose registered voters, not likely voters, because of the low turnout mayoral elections usually bring and the District’s population growth over the last two mayoral election cycles.) Respondents were 57 percent female, 43 percent male, and 56 percent black, 36 percent white, 1 percent Latino, 1 percent Asian, 2 percent “other” and 3 percent more than one race.

Pick up the paper tomorrow, and check back here on the website later today, for more from the poll. The Kojo Nnamdi Show‘s take is here.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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