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WJLA-TV earlier this week ran a short item about the “Supermarket Poll,” a survey conducted at, yes, D.C. supermarkets in recent weeks by local politico Bernard Demczuk and George Washington University students. In a race with as little hard polling data as the at-large council race, Demczuk’s long-running quasi-scientific survey is about as close we’ll probably get to honest accounting of where the race stands, at least until Ron Lester rears his head again.
LL’s gotten his hands on the raw numbers. Keeping in mind that Carol Schwartz‘s name appeared on the Demczuk survey when it won’t be appearing on actual ballots, here’s the data:
Demczuk’s read on the numbers?
1. Carol Schwartz is a very popular politician, especially among African American voters and particularly among elderly African Americans in all eight wards. Her name recognition is virtually 100%. Most people did not know she was not on the ballot and they did not know that they would have to write-in her name.
2. Most voters agreed that the city is heading in the right direction but African Americans were much less enthusiastic then white voters about where the city is headed. Most African American voters in lower class communities did not think the city was headed in the right direction. White voters were almost 100% in agreement that the city was headed in the right direction.
3. The above is true for Mayor Fenty’s leadership. Most approve of the mayor’s leadership but most African Americans in lower socio-economic communities disapprove of the mayor’s leadership. White voters are virtually unanimous in their approval of the mayor.
4. Most voters disapprove of the performance of the city council or have “no opinion” of the city council’s performance. Most voters do not know much at all about the city council. This anecdotal information begs the question of how the city council can get itself better known and improve its image with voters?
5. If the election were held today, it is no surprise that Kwame Brown would win with an overwhelming number of votes and that Carol Schwartz would win as well if her name were on the ballot.
If, and only if, Carol Schwartz has enough poll workers on election day to inform and persuade the voters to write-in her name and if she can mount an effective advertizing campaign to inform and persuade her supporters to write-in her name, she may be able to win the number two spot. However, even if she does have a well-organized write-in operation on election day, she will fall short of Michael Brown’s appeal to voters. The data demonstrates that Michael Brown and Carol are virtually tied for the number two spot, even though Carol continues to be very popular among voters.
In addition, Michael Brown is #1 on the ballot which should give him an organic bump of 2-5 percentage points on election day. The turnout among African Americans and new voters due to Barack Obama on the ballot will bring a large turnout of young and new voters who do not know who Carol Schwartz is. Many of them will not take the time to write-in her name while many will also vote for the name with whom they may be more familiar and comfortable. That name is Michael Brown, conveniently at the top of the ticket.
CAVEAT: This survey was conducted with Carol Schwartz’s name listed on the survey questionnaire. The decision was made to list her name on the questionnaire on the presumption that she would have enough campaign workers at the polls to alert voters to write-in her name. If that presumption is wrong or if voters simply become confused during the write-in effort or do not know how to write-in, then Carol Schwartz will not be a contender on election day and Michael Brown will be the sure victor.
In short, even though the data shows that Carol Schwartz has a slight lead over Michael Brown, it will be very difficult for her to win. Michael Brown could be headed to victory on November 4 if all things stay equal as of October 26, 2008 unless Carol Schwartz can mount a tidal wave of poll workers, advertizing and campaign tactics to persuade voters to write-in her name. If anyone in the city could pull off that kind of herculean comeback, Carol Schwartz is the one to do it. She remains a beloved household name among likely voters in the District.
6. Lastly, both the empirical data and the anecdotal evidence show that none of the other candidates have any chance of winning. They rarely register on the voters electoral radar screen.