In candidate forums, televised ads and grassroots efforts, the leading mayoral campaigns have gone negative - something D.C. voters noticed even before the recent volleys - according to a new Washington Post poll.
In the Post poll, taken before the mayor adopted a new underdog approach, Democratic voters divided about evenly on whether the Fenty campaign was "mainly attacking" or mostly "addressing the issues." But by a 47-33 margin, Democratic voters said Gray's campaign was mostly "addressing the issues." On each item, about 20 percent said they were unsure.
Yesterday's Washington Post live forum showcased some of the sparring sure to continue between now and the Sept. 14 primary. The leading candidates debated Gray's stewardship of DHS, high parking fees, connections with special interests and contracts rewarded to companies with ties to the mayor.
While more voters polled in late August said the Gray campaign was mainly addressing issues, a big part of the gap arose because Gray has more backers. That is, clear majorities of those who support either the chairman or Fenty see the other side as primarily attacking and their own as sticking to the issues. For example, residents of Wards 7 and 8 - who overwhelmingly back Gray - largely see Fenty's campaign as attacking and Gray's as addressing the issues. By contrast, whites and residents of Wards 2 and 3 say Fenty, by a 2 to 1 margin, is mainly addressing the issues.
Among highly sought after movable voters, the four in 10 Democratic voters who are undecided or say they're open to changing their minds, more say that Fenty and Gray are mainly addressing the issues.
Q. So far in this campaign, do you think the Fenty campaign has been mainly (attacking the other side) or mainly (addressing the issues)?
Asked among registered Democrats Attacking Addressing No the other side the issues opinion Registered Democrats 38 41 21 Whites 26 53 21 Blacks 47 32 20 Wards 2 & 3 26 58 16 Wards 7 & 8 50 35 15 Fenty voters 17 65 18 Gray voters 58 26 16 Movable voters 30 38 32
Q. So far in this campaign, do you think the Gray campaign has been mainly (attacking the other side) or mainly (addressing the issues)?
Asked among registered Democrats Attacking Addressing No the other side the issues opinion Registered Democrats 33 47 21 Whites 46 30 24 Blacks 25 57 17 Wards 2 & 3 46 37 17 Wards 7 & 8 19 65 16 Fenty voters 55 20 25 Gray voters 19 71 10 Movable voters 31 37 32