Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) appears to be cruising to an easy reelection over his two rivals for the Democratic nomination, according to an internal poll conducted by his campaign from July 28 to July 1.
The survey of 300 Democrats in Ward 1 found Graham drawing 68 percent of the vote, while challengers Bryan Weaver and Jeff Smith split 15 percent of the vote. The poll, conducted by Celina Lake's firm Lake Research Partners, showed that 17 percent of Ward 1 votes remain undecided.
Although there is time for either Weaver or Smith to emerge as a stronger challenger to Graham, the poll shows that 77 percent of Ward 1 Democrats view Graham favorably and 71 percent rate his performance as "excellent and good."
Because the poll was conducted by the Graham campaign, the results should be viewed with a bit of skepticism. But the numbers track with Graham's success in the 2006 campaign in winning 86 percent of the vote against Chad Williams.
"More than anything, these poll numbers tell me that our accomplishments over the past 12 years are making a big difference," Graham said in a statement. "We all know there's more to be done, but we are on the right path and have the support of people from across the ward."
Perhaps the most interesting numbers in the poll are the results of the mayor's race between Adrian M. Fenty and Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray in Ward 1. The results are likely to make the Fenty campaign a bit uncomfortable.
According to the poll, the incumbent mayor leads Gray in Ward 1 by a margin of 43 percent to 37 percent. Despite that narrow lead, many observers believe Fenty needs a much greater margin in Ward 1 on Election Day to overcome Gray's expected advantage in communities in Northeast and Southeast Washington.
Ward 1, the city's most diverse, is home to many of the new District residents that the Fenty campaign has been heavily courting. On July 4, a few hours before the fireworks, Fenty was spotted campaigning door-to-door in Mount Pleasant. In his successful 2006 campaign, Fenty won 61 percent of the vote in Ward 1, his best showing outside of his home base of Ward 4.
Still, Graham's poll demonstrates that Gray still faces a challenge in becoming better known. Only three out of four Ward 1 residents recognize Gray's name, compared with the nearly 100 percent who knew Fenty's. And with 18 percent of Ward 1 residents undecided, there is still a path for Fenty to match his 2006 numbers in Ward 1.