But the mayor receives widespread negative marks when it comes to her two signature issues: the availability of affordable housing and reducing homelessness.
Bowser continues to preside over an optimistic city, with 59 percent saying the District is generally headed in the right direction, although major class divisions persist. More than 7 in 10 white residents and people with household incomes of at least $100,000 endorse the city’s direction, while fewer than half of black residents and those with incomes under $50,000 say the same.
Bowser faced no serious competition last year when she became the first Washington mayor reelected in 16 years and the first black woman to win reelection.
The District has no term limits, meaning Bowser could run again when her term expires in 2022.
The Post poll finds support for her running for a third term to be substantial across different demographic groups, with about half of white and black Washingtonians wanting her to run again. More than 6 in 10 senior citizens want Bowser to seek a third term compared with just under half of voters under 30.
Brooks lives in a part of Southeast Washington where he frequently hears police sirens and says he has been struggling to find an affordable apartment in a safer neighborhood. But he believes Bowser has been doing the best she can because crime and affordable housing are challenging for any politician.
“She has on-the-job training now,” Brooks said.
Other voters said they would back Bowser for a third term because they couldn’t think of a better alternative. Potential candidates include D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D), who considered challenging Bowser last year, and D.C. Council members Robert C. White Jr. (D-At Large) and David Grosso (I-At Large), who have both expressed interest in higher office.
John West, a 73-year-old attorney on Capitol Hill, said he has voted for Bowser twice without much enthusiasm and is wary of mayors serving more than two terms.
“You see so many people that come in with good idealistic starting points and after several terms kind of turn bad,” said West, who praised Racine as a potential candidate. “If she ran again and there wasn’t some other candidate that presented a good alternative, I would certainly be inclined to vote for her.”
Bowser’s 67 percent approval rating is identical to findings in a 2017 Post poll, with 21 percent currently disapproving and 12 percent offering no opinion.
Her current standing is much higher than the 51 percent high point of her predecessor Vincent C. Gray (D), whose tenure was later clouded by a federal investigation into his campaign, but slightly below the 72 percent approval high for former mayor Adrian Fenty (D) in 2008 and 77 percent for Anthony Williams (D) in 2000.
But much of Bowser’s support is soft, with 48 “somewhat” approving of her tenure and 19 percent strongly approving, which is in line with her past ratings and those of several predecessors.
When it comes to housing in a city that has undergone the most intense gentrification in the country in recent years, residents see a growing problem and are more dissatisfied with the mayor.
Housing costs topped the list of concerns for those polled, with 23 percent citing the issue, ticking up from 19 percent two years ago and far higher than 4 percent in 2011, when education and the economy were top-of-mind.
Crime ranks second at 18 percent, also up slightly from 13 percent in 2017 but still far lower than in 2015, when 34 percent said crime was the city’s biggest problem. Another 9 percent name poverty and homelessness as the city’s top problem, roughly similar to 7 percent in 2017 but the highest in Post polls since 2011. Education, transportation, racial issues and gentrification, and the economy also ranked among the city’s most important issues.
When asked to rate Bowser’s handling of five issues, residents give her their highest grade on education.
A 59 percent majority says she is doing an “excellent” or “good” job on improving District public schools, up from 51 percent who said that in 2017 and the best marks for any D.C. mayor in Post polls since 2000.
But 64 percent of District residents are critical of Bowser’s efforts to create and maintain affordable housing, rating the mayor’s performance as “not so good” or “poor.” A similar 61 percent give Bowser negative marks when it comes to addressing homelessness.
Bowser has made housing the centerpiece of her administration. She wants to add 36,000 new units by 2025, including expanding affordable housing units in wealthy neighborhoods.
Linda Houghton, an 80-year-old Adams Morgan resident, said she’s not convinced the mayor is capable of delivering on her plan.
“My sense was she felt the city had to be developed and developers were doing a good job and she didn’t have any second thoughts about it,” said Houghton, who is white and has been attending community meetings about affordable housing. “But I have second thoughts. The developments that are coming in are high-priced small units, and I feel my African American and Hispanic neighbors are being pushed out.”
Under Bowser, the city stopped housing homeless families at the former D.C. General hospital campus, replacing the megashelter with smaller new facilities spread across the city.
The survey finds majority support for increasing subsidized housing for low-income residents. Nearly 9 in 10 residents approve of more vouchers to low-income residents to help them pay rent or more funding to build additional low-cost apartments. Nearly 8 in 10 support making more apartments subject to rent control.
When asked about their own neighborhoods, a 73 percent majority said it would be a “good idea” to increase the number of government-subsidized apartment units.
Mark Stilp, a federal worker who purchased a home in gentrifying Trinidad four years ago, said he supports even more aggressive affordable housing strategies to keep neighborhoods racially and economically diverse.
“There should be a focus on making sure that when people like myself move into neighborhoods like Trinidad that I’m not displacing somebody and forcing them to move to a neighborhood they don't want to live in,” said Stilp, 36.
Bowser’s handling of crime has shifted slightly into negative territory, with 45 percent rating her positively, down from 53 percent two years ago. Violent crime overall has declined since Bowser took office in 2015, but homicides have risen.
Carilyn Torres, a marketing consultant in Columbia Heights, said she has been increasingly concerned about robberies and shootings in her neighborhood. But that’s not necessarily enough to make her want a new mayor.
“I’m wondering how many of us just vote for who is already in there because we don’t have much information,” said Torres, 49. “I would probably vote for her again for lack of information, which is a bit embarrassing.”
District residents give Bowser mixed marks for reducing the influence of political donors on government decisions, with 37 percent saying she is doing at least a good job while 41 percent rate her as “not so good” or “poor.”
This Post poll was conducted by telephone Nov. 12 through Sunday among a random sample of 905 adult residents of the District. Interviews were conducted by live interviewers; 75 percent of the residents were interviewed on cellphones and 25 percent on landlines. The overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.
Emily Guskin contributed to this report.