David Catania is Gaining On Muriel Bowser in DC’s Mayoral Race

David Catania is Gaining On Muriel Bowser in DC’s Mayoral Race

A new poll shows Bowser only four points ahead of her opponent. By Harry Jaffe, Washingtonian Magazine

Can Bowser hold on to her lead? Photograph by Flickr user crystalndavis.

Published October 6, 2014

DC’s mayoral race is tightening.

A new poll by veteran DC pollster Ron Lester shows Democrat Muriel Bowser four points ahead of Independent David Catania in the November 4 general election. Bowser comes in at 34 percent to Catania’s 30. Carol Schwartz, also running as an independent, came in at 16 percent. Nineteen percent of those polled were undecided.

Lester’s poll is significant for a number of reasons. He’s among the District’s most experienced pollsters—he’s worked for major candidates including Vincent Gray and Marion Barry—and he’s known for precise, accurate polls.

Lester’s poll runs counter to the Washington Post’s September poll that showed Bowser leading by 17 points. The Post’s poll, with NBC4 and Marist, was taken from a random digit dialing sample. Lester polled 500 likely voters in a sample split between 48 percent black voters, 47 percent white, and 5 percent Latino.

Lester’s poll tracks the results of a recent poll by Economic Growth DC, an independent business group, that showed Bowser up by eight points. Lester’s poll, commissioned by Karl Racine, a candidate in the attorney general’s race, shows Racine leading four other candidates by a wide margin.

For the mayoral race, the poll reveals that Bowser’s numbers are stagnating, in part because she’s not participating in the race in a robust way. Meanwhile, Catania’s attacks are taking hold and cutting down her support.

Bowser campaign manager Bill Lightfoot declined to comment before seeing the poll.

“It’s in line with our poll,” Catania aide Ben Young tells Washingtonian. “It shows David surging.”

Not exactly. Catania’s numbers have also held relatively steady, hovering around 30 percent.

“Bowser’s support has eroded, and that must be troubling for her camp,” says Chuck Thies, a political consultant who ran Vince Gray’s unsuccessful campaign to win the Democratic primary. “But Catania is just inching up. Can he eclipse her in the limited time left in the race? Inching up is not a path to victory.”

Lester’s poll revealed a surprising aspect of Carol Schwartz’s support. In her fifth run for mayor, the veteran District politician runs second among African-American voters, which hurts Bowser more than Catania.

In racial terms, Bowser is stronger among black voters, at 42 to 19 percent over Catania. That support holds among African Americans over 60. Bowser is strongest in wards east of the Anacostia River and maintains a slight lead in white neighborhoods in the District’s northwest wards.

Karl Racine—a veteran attorney who’s managed Venable, a major law firm, and worked in the Clinton Administration—easily polls better than the other candidates in the District’s first election for attorney general. With the Post’s endorsement, Racine will be difficult to beat.

Lester declined to comment on the poll.

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