Poll Lampoon Has Orange Seeing Red

By Lori Montgomery and Henri Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, May 5, 2005

Readers of the DCist, a Web site about local culture and politics, were treated last week to an amusing lampoon of the "Orange Poll," the 10-item questionnaire Council member Vincent B. Orange Sr. (D-Ward 5) has been circulating since December to help him decide whether to run for mayor.

"Part insulting, part confusing and wholly unhelpful in measuring public support or opposition for any given issue, Orange seems to have gone cheap on his polling," wrote Martin Austermuhle , a DCist contributor who lives on Capitol Hill and works for the Venezuelan Embassy, according to his bio.

There follows a list of Orange's yes/no queries and Austermuhle's responses. To wit: "5. Are public safety, public education and quality of life important factors in deciding who you will support for Mayor in 2006?" "Now, really, would anyone actually answer 'no' to this question?"

Soon after the piece was posted last Thursday, reader replies started pouring in. And that's when things got really interesting.

"Oh, wait, it gets MUCH BETTER," wrote Jim , who directed readers to a page on Orange's mayoral exploratory committee Web site. That page appeared to show the results of the Orange Poll: As of Friday, 96 people had replied to the 10th and final question, "Should Vincent Bernard Orange Sr. become a candidate for the 2006 DC Mayoral race?"

Fifty-five of them -- 57 percent -- answered no.

By Monday, the poll was no longer accessible on Orange's Web site. "Error processing survey," came the message. "Survey is not active."

Hmmmm. Did Orange pull the plug because he was losing his own poll?

Not at all, said the council member. Those so-called results Jim offered up were phony, he said, doctored by hackers who attacked the exploratory committee Web site over the weekend.

"We don't have any results, so they would have to be made up," Orange said. "Our system isn't designed for people to have access to that information."

On Monday, aides were still trying to figure out what had happened and planning to call police, Orange said. On Tuesday, the online poll reappeared in a different format. Two spelling errors ridiculed by Austermuhle had been corrected.

Meanwhile, 60 people have replied to a paper version of the Orange Poll mailed last month to approximately 90,000 D.C. households. Of those, 34 said Orange should run for mayor, a more encouraging 56 percent of those polled, Orange said.

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