9/18: Bowser Front-Runner in DC Mayor’s Race

In the race for mayor of the District of Columbia, Democrat Muriel Bowser leads her opponents by double-digits among likely voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.  Bowser receives 43% to 26% for independent David Catania and 16% for independent Carol Schwartz.  14% are undecided.  Bowser’s support is bolstered by Democrats who said they supported Mayor Vincent Gray in the Democratic primary.  Nearly half of likely voters who backed Gray, 47%, now support Bowser.

Among registered voters in Washington, DC including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, Bowser enjoys a similar lead.  Here, she has the support of 43% to 24% for Catania and 17% for Schwartz.  15% are undecided.

When looking at the candidate with the most desirable attributes and abilities, Bowser still outperforms her opposition in most areas.  However, Bowser does not receive the same level of support that she does in the overall tossup.

Complete September 18, 2014 NBC4/Washington Post/Marist Poll

“Bowser has the advantage going into Thursday night’s debate,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “But, when considering voters who are undecided and those who say they may still vote differently, there are enough persuadable voters to make for a lively give-and-take.”

Poll points:

  • In the mayoralty contest in the District of Columbia, 43% of likely voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate support Muriel Bowser.  26% back David Catania, and 16% favor Carol Schwartz.  14% are undecided.
  • Bowser maintains the support of many Democrats who voted for her in the Democratic primary, 64%.  She also has the backing of 47% of Democrats who voted for Vincent Gray in the primary.  However, Catania has the advantage, 52%, among those who supported Tommy Wells who came in a distant third in April’s primary.
  • A majority of likely voters who are African American, 55%, favor Bowser.  While Catania leads Bowser by 11 points among white voters, Bowser garners 30% of these voters.
  • Bowser is the choice of 52% of likely voters who mention jobs and the economy as the key issue in the contest for mayor compared with 19% for Catania and 16% for Schwartz.  Bowser also has the support of 40% of those who cite education as the deciding factor.  This compares with 30% for Catania and 14% for Schwartz.
  • Among likely voters in the District who have a candidate preference, 49% strongly support their choice of candidate for mayor.  34% somewhat support their pick, and 16% might vote differently.  Bowser and Catania enjoy a similar level of support from their backers.  51% of those behind Catania and 50% of likely voters backing Bowser are firmly committed to their choice of candidate.
  • When it comes to the second choice of likely voters with a candidate preference, 30% select Schwartz while 28% are for Catania.  Bowser is the second choice of 21%, and 16% are undecided.  When looking at each candidate’s backers, support divides between the remaining two candidates.
  • Each of the candidates is viewed favorably by the likely DC electorate.  Half of likely voters, 50%, have a favorable view of Bowser compared with 22% who have an unfavorable impression of her.  28% don’t know enough about her to form an opinion.
  • 50% of likely voters have a positive impression of Schwartz.  15% have an unfavorable one, and 36% don’t know enough to say.
  • A plurality of likely voters, 46%, thinks favorably of Catania while 19% have a negative impression of the candidate.  35% do not know enough about him to weigh in.
  • About one in three likely voters, 34%, is very enthusiastic to cast their ballot for mayor.  An additional 40% are moderately enthusiastic to vote while 19% are not too enthusiastic.  Seven percent are not enthusiastic at all to go to the polls.
  • Two-thirds of Democratic likely voters in the District, 67%, would consider voting for a candidate who is not a Democrat.  This includes 38% who would very seriously consider doing so.  31% of Democrats would not entertain the idea of voting for a candidate who is not a Democrat.  Included here are 16% who would absolutely not consider voting for someone in another party.
  • 64% of likely voters in the District do not think it is important to have an African American mayor.  Among these voters, nearly four in ten, 38%, say it is not important at all.  More than three in ten, including 13% who report it is essential, thinks it is important to have a mayor who is African American.

Economic Concerns and Education Key Factors to Vote

27% of likely voters report that jobs and the economy is the issue which matters most in deciding their vote.  The same proportion, 27%, mentions education followed by housing with 14%, ethics with 14%, and crime with 9%.  Seven percent of voters cites another issue as the determining factor, and 2% are unsure.

Bowser Tops Competition on Most Image Questions, But…

Bowser is perceived by four in ten likely voters, 40%, to be the candidate with the best temperament to be mayor.  She is also thought to be the candidate who would be the most effective leader and who would do the most to improve the public school system.  However, Bowser and Catania vie for who has the clearest vision for the District and who has the best experience to serve effectively.

Poll points:

Crowded Field in Contest for DC Attorney General

With close to six in ten likely voters in the District undecided, none of the candidates for attorney general has emerged as the favorite.  Among likely voters in the District including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, 14% support Paul Zukerberg.  Seven percent are for Lateefah Williams, 7% back Lorie Masters, 5% support Edward “Smitty” Smith, and 5% back Karl Racine.  Four percent support another candidate, and 57% are undecided.

Nearly Two in Three Voters Support Legalization of Marijuana

65% of likely voters in the District including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a position say they will vote “yes” for Initiative 71 which would legalize small amounts of marijuana for recreational use for adults 21 years of age or older.  One-third, 33%, reports they will vote against the initiative.  Only 2% are undecided.

DC Police Chief Receives High Marks… Majority Approves of Chancellor’s Handling of Schools 

71% of residents in the District approve of how Cathy Lanier is doing her job as police chief.  14% disapprove, and 15% are unsure.

Looking at Kaya Henderson’s performance as Chancellor of DC’s public schools, a majority of adults, 52%, approves of how she is doing her job.  22% disapprove, and 26% are unsure.  A majority of residents, 55%, supports changes to neighborhood school boundaries.  23% oppose this proposal, and 22% are unsure.

More than Two-Thirds View District on Right Course

67% of adults say the District is moving in the right direction.  24% think it is on the wrong track, and 8% are unsure.  When this question was last reported in March, 65% of residents thought the District was on the right path.  21% reported it was on the wrong road, and 14%, at the time, were unsure.

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables