Washington Examiner: Gray Support Among Blacks, Others, Slips

Poll shows Gray’s black base eroding

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s once enthusiastic support from the District’s black voters has seriously eroded, a new poll shows.

Gray’s citywide approval rating is a dismal 31 percent, according to a Clarus poll of 500 D.C. voters taken on Monday and Tuesday. That’s only about 6 points higher than Marion Barry’s approval rating six months after he was caught on tape smoking crack in a District hotel room in 1990. After being plagued by scandals for more than a month, 40 percent of D.C. residents now disapprove of the job Gray is doing, the Clarus poll found.

Gray has taken a big hit among the city’s black voters who put him in office. According to Clarus, 42 percent of black voters approve of the job the mayor is doing and 22 percent disapprove. A poll taken by Clarus just one week before the September Democratic primary found that Gray had the support of 62 percent of the city’s black voters.

Gray said he recognizes the challenges that the poll exemplified.

Gray’s approval rating:
Citywide: 31% approve, 40% disapprove
White voters: 17% approve, 60% disapprove
Black voters: 42% approve, 22% disapprove

"We’ve got work to do," Gray told reporters Wednesday. "I’m not shocked [by the poll]. I’m not happy with it."

The numbers don’t surprise some city insiders. "People are talking about six-figure salaries for administration officials that are just unimaginable for people in Ward 8," said Ward 8 community activist Phillip Pannell. The predominantly black ward is home to the city’s highest unemployment rate, about 30 percent. Last week, Gray scaled back the salaries of eight administration officials that were on pace to break the ceiling established by city law.

"It makes the administration appear removed from people’s daily experience," Pannell said. "A lot of people can’t relate to that." He added that Ward 8 residents feel Gray has left him out of his Cabinet choices, too.

Not only has Gray been hammered for the high salaries his top officials have earned, but members of his mayoral campaign are also getting a close look from the FBI and House investigators for alleged campaign impropriety. Former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown has accused Gray for Mayor Chairwoman Lorraine Green and campaign consultant Howard Brooks of passing him cash-stuffed envelopes so he could stay on the campaign trail and attack then-Mayor Adrian Fenty.

Despite those scandals, though, Gray has time to win back his supporters, particularly since the Clarus poll found 29 percent of voters have no opinion of the job he’s done, said Mo Elleithee, Gray’s chief political consultant during the mayoral campaign.

"There’s still a significant number of people for whom the jury is still out," Elleithee said. "If he continues to recognize problems and takes actions to fix them and does that quickly, then he can turn things around."

fklopott@washingtonexaminer.com

Kevin Wrege, Esq.

Founder & President

Pulse Issues & Advocacy LLC

Office: 202-625-1787

Mobile: 202-253-4929

4410 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150

Washington, DC 20016

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