Poll Finds Weak Support for Vincent Orange in Re-Election Bid

Poll Finds Weak Support for Vincent Orange in Re-Election Bid
By Martin Austermuhle in News on February 22, 2012 1:30 PM, DCIst.com

A recent poll has found that Councilmember Vincent Orange (D-At Large) has weak citywide support in his re-election bid, but he may sneak into a full term the same way he won last year’s At Large Special Election — by facing a divided field of competitors.

According to a telephone poll done by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling, only 30 percent of likely D.C. voters would side with Orange on April 3, while 48 percent would vote for someone else and 22 percent are undecided. But much like with other candidates, a stark demographic split has emerged — Orange has the backing of 45 percent of African American voters, while only 11 percent of whites support his re-election. Still, 41 percent of African Americans said they would vote for someone else, leaving Orange at something of a disadvantage if he runs against one good candidate.

But he’s not. Currently, Orange is facing three main challengers: former interim At Large Councilmember Sekou Biddle, former Prince George’s County Councilman Peter Shapiro and Ward 1 ANC commissioner and pastor E. Gail Anderson Holness. Both Biddle and Shapiro espouse similar progressive beliefs, and supporters of Shapiro have already said that Biddle should drop out, lest Orange win another term because his opposition remained divided. But others point out that Shapiro, who only recently returned to the District after a stint in Maryland, has even less citywide name recognition than Biddle, who served on the D.C. State Board of Education and D.C. Council, albeit only briefly. (The poll won’t really help settle who, if anyone, should drop out — only Orange was name-tested.)

One aside, though — the poll tested likely voters, not registered Democratic voters. There are some 80,000 voters that are not associated with any political party, and unless they become Democrats before the March 5 deadline, they won’t be able to vote for a Democratic At-Large candidate on April 3. Still, the poll tracks closely with one done before last year’s Special Election. In that poll, Orange only enjoyed citywide support of 28 percent, which means that his base has remained somewhat static over the last year.

What Orange seems to lack in popular support he certainly makes up for in fundraising prowess, though. Through the end of January, he had raised over $145,000 and had $108,000 remaining on hand. Biddle only raised $47,000 and had $33,000 on hand, while Shapiro had taken in $90,000 and had $73,000 in the bank. (Shapiro’s fundraising included a $50,000 personal loan.) With Orange’s existing bankroll and six weeks left until the Democratic primary, the incumbent could just pay for buses to get his supporters to the polls and likely sneak into another term.

The At-Large contenders square off tomorrow during a forum hosted by the Ward 3 Democrats.

Interestingly, the poll was commissioned and paid for by former mayoral candidate and millionaire developer Don Peebles, according to a seasoned political operative not affiliated with Peebles that provided us with the At-Large responses. (A Peebles spokesman opted not to comment, saying only that any leaks came from unauthorized sources.) While the At-Large race may be one of the more contested races to watch, Peebles was more interested in other issues — notably how a recall of Mayor Vince Gray and D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown would poll amongst District voters. Peebles recently said that he’d be willing to fund such an effort, and this poll seemed to be one step in deciding whether to do so or not.


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