The findings underscore a turbulent start for Gray, one that has been marred by allegations of nepotism, electoral corruption and excessive spending on staff salaries just nine months after he rode to power in the Democratic primary on a wave of public dissatisfaction with Fenty.
The former D.C. Council chairman handily defeated the once-wildly popular incumbent, promising to lead an ethical and transparent government responsive to voters across “One City.”
But Democratic voters — the vast majority of the city’s electorate — have sharply reevaluated Gray. The number of Democrats seeing the mayor as untrustworthy has nearly tripled, and the number saying he doesn’t understand their problems has more than doubled.
“It’s appalling. It’s all appalling,” said Anne D. Williams of Glover Park. “Friends at dinner last night, we spent 15 minutes trying to remember his name. He’s gray all over. He’s very dull, but . . . I don’t trust him. Don’t ask me to back that up. I don’t know why.”
George Brown said he is willing to give Gray the benefit of the doubt, but he said Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown’s recent controversies over ordering city-leased SUVs and his campaign finance records have weighed on him differently. “He seems to be slipping right now,” said Brown, a retired pharmacist who lives in Ward 5 and has no relation to the council chairman. “I’m concerned that he’s going to fall. . . . I hope he will become a little more concerned about himself and the citizenry.”
Fewer now see the city as headed in the right direction. Since August of last year, there’s been a 10-point drop in optimism about the way things are going in the District.
In an August 2010 Post poll, 47 percent of registered voters approved of the way Fenty handled his job as mayor. In the new survey, 40 percent of registered voters say they approve of Gray’s job performance.
For the first time in Post polls back to 2000, a significant percentage of registered voters say the city government — separate from crime and city services — is the single biggest problem they see as deserving mayoral attention. In an open-ended question, 15 percent said that city government is the top issue; a slender 4 percent had said so before last September’s Democratic primary.
The newfound focus on city government is more evident among white residents than among African Americans, but similar numbers of whites and blacks see corruption as a major problem in city government.
Gray’s personal ratings continue to be highest among blacks and black registered voters. Some 51 percent of African Americans approve of the way the mayor is handling his job, but that drops to just 27 percent among the city’s white residents.