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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 02:09 PM ET, 09/02/2010

Going negative in the D.C. mayoral

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

By Kyle Dropp  |  02:09 PM ET, 09/02/2010

Categories:  D.C., D.C. | Tags:  attack ads, dc, fenty, gray, issues, mayoral campaign, negative campaigning, voting

 
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