Poll: Anita Bonds has lead in D.C. Council race

Bonds, at a 2008 Democratic Party event (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

The first publicly released poll on the upcoming D.C. Council special election shows Democrat Anita Bonds with a slight lead in the race for an at-large seat, with a significant number of District voters still undecided.

Of the 76 percent of poll respondents who said they would definitely or probably vote on April 23, Bonds led the field with 19 percent. Republican Patrick Mara and Democrat Elissa Silverman followed with 13 percent. Democrat Matthew Frumin is at 8 percent, with Statehood Green candidate Perry Redd and Democrat Paul Zukerberg at 2 percent each.

Forty-three percent of likely-voting respondents said they had not made up their minds.

The automated telephone survey of 1,621 registered voters was done April 10 and 11 by Public Policy Polling and was commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project Foundation and the Drug Policy Alliance, with financial support from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. The poll also included several questions about marijuana policy, the results of which will be released later in the week, said Adam Eidinger, a local activist and Dr. Bronner’s employee who helped develop the survey.

The poll did not report a margin of error, and it did not include Michael A. Brown, a well-known Democrat who dropped out of the race earlier this month but will still appear on the ballot.

The poll shows Bonds solidly ahead among Democrats, with 20 percent to Silverman’s 14 percent. Mara has an overwhelming advantage among Republicans (61 percent), and is running slightly ahead of Bonds among independents and third-party adherents (22 percent to 19 percent). Note that Democrats made up 82 percent of the overall sample.

White respondents were closely split between Silverman and Mara (22 percent to 21 percent), with Frumin at 13 percent. Black respondents, however, tilted strongly toward Bonds, who had 28 percent support versus no more than 6 percent support for any other candidate. But more than half of likely black voters are undecided, versus only about one-third of likely white voters.

Bonds is doing better among women than men (22 percent to 16 percent), while Mara (17 percent to 9 percent) and Silverman (15 percent to 11 percent) are doing better among men.

In addition to the omission of Brown, there are reasons to be cautious: PPP’s automated polls do not reach cell phones, which is a particular weakness in the District, where 2011 CDC data show 44 percent of residents are cell phone-only and unreachable on a landline phone. Of the registered voters surveyed by PPP, 18-to-29 year-olds made up 9 percent of the sample whereas 2010 Census data shows 20-to-29 year-olds were 27 percent of the adult population.

Early voting in the race has been underway since Monday. Through Saturday 1,118 residents had voted, according to the D.C. Board of Elections. In the last citywide special election, in April 2011, about 47,000 residents voted.

Capitol Insight polling analyst Scott Clement contributed to this post.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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Mike DeBonis · April 12, 2013