As the mayoral campaigns ramp up their get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts before Tuesday's primary, the Washington Post poll shows the cold fact that it's hard to translate those efforts into votes.
Mayor Adrian Fenty is trailing, but not for lack of effort: in the Post poll, out two weeks ago, half of all Democrats said they'd been contacted by the Fenty campaign, either in person, by phone, or by e-mail or text message. While the Gray campaign had reached fewer, three in 10, more found Gray's effort "helpful" than "annoying." Among those contacted by Fenty, more said the effort was annoying.
Regardless of how voters feel about the GOTV tactics, they can expect more contacts in the campaign's final hours. Both candidates have plenty of cash on hand for the home stretch. The mayor has over $800K on hand and the council chairman has about $450K, according to the latest campaign finance filing.
The Washington Post poll conducted in late August gives Gray a sizable 53-36 lead over Fenty among likely voters, but, buoyed by high turnout among early voters in Northwest D.C., Fenty likely has the edge among those who already have cast ballots.
The poll's contact figures also shed light on the leading candidates' GOTV strategies. Gray has been focusing resources on his base; on Sunday, for instance, he visited three predominantly African American churches. Fenty has taken advantage of his campaign war chest to speak to a broader swath of the electorate.
While only 20 percent of voters in Wards 2 and 3, Fenty strongholds, said they'd been contacted by the Gray campaign, twice as many in Wards 5 and 8 have heard from the chairman. In Northwest, 55 percent said they had been contacted by Fenty, compared to 52 percent in Northeast and only 44 percent in Southeast.
The mayor's prolific GOTV efforts aren't having the intended effect, though. A full 65 percent of voters contacted by Gray said they will vote for the chairman. Among those contacted by Fenty, the mayor loses 38 to 47, a bit narrower than the overall split. Those contacted by both campaigns favor Gray 60 to 28.
And Gray, who has outraised Fenty 2-to-1 in recent weeks, may be able to use this windfall to extend his efforts to a broader cross section of voters.
Q. Have you personally been contacted by a representative of the Fenty campaign, asking you for your support, or not? This includes contacts in person, by phone, or by e-mail or text message.
Yes No No opinion Reg Dems 50 49 1 Northwest 55 44 1 Northeast 52 46 1 Southeast 44 56 NA
Q. Have you personally been contacted by a representative of the Gray campaign, asking you for your support, or not? This includes contacts in person, by phone, or by e-mail or text message.
Yes No No opinion Reg Dems 30 69 1 Wards 2 & 3 21 76 3 Wards 5 & 8 39 61 NA
Q. (IF CONTACTED) Was the contact from the (Fenty/Gray) campaign more (helpful) or more (annoying)?
Both Neither No Helpful Annoying (vol.) (vol.) opinion Fenty 34 43 2 18 4 Gray 67 16 1 14 3