Results of a poll by a GW administrator and six students show that Mayor Adrian Fenty is 13 points behind GW alumnus Vincent Gray in D.C.’s Democratic mayoral primary.
Over an eight-week period the group interviewed 675 registered D.C. Democratic voters in an attempt to predict the Sept. 14 primary election results.
The Supermarket Survey’s results, provided by the University, show Gray with 50.5 percent of the vote compared to Fenty’s 37.5 percent.
Dr. Bernard Demczuk, assistant vice president for D.C. relations at GW, led the student group in conducting the poll.
In a phone interview with The Hatchet Friday after the results were released, Demczuk accounted this double-digit lead for Gray to the overall feeling that Fenty has alienated the African-American community on the top-ranking issues of affordable housing, jobs and crime.
Demczuk also said Gray’s lead was due to the backing of the white progressive community.
“You got a good 30 percent of whites supporting African Americans.consequently you get all of that together and Adrian Fenty is having a hard time trying to win this election,” he said.
The group surveyed all eight wards of the city at multiple grocery store locations to gain information about the mayor’s election and other election races in the city.
Demczuk’s grocery store poll isn’t taken lightly. After starting to use this method in 1986, his last five D.C. surveys were comparable with election results.
Although the average age of a participant in the Supermarket Survey was estimated at 40 to 60 years of age, there is a huge youth progressive movement that backs Gray’s campaign that only corroborates with the predicted outcome, Demczuk explained.
“I don’t think the youth is necessarily heading into the direction of Fenty as some might expect,” Demczuk said. “If you are new to D.C. you might be supporting Fenty. If young people are born and raised in D.C., they aren’t supporting him as much.”
In contrast to Demczuk’s prediction, however, GW junior James McKnight-a D.C. resident and local firefighter-said he supports Fenty. He said he favors Fenty because of his proposals for public transportation.
“It adds public transportation to a city that badly needs it and needs to reduce the car volume on the streets,” McKnight said. “Our infrastructure was not built for this amount of cars and the streetcars could help solve that overcrowding problem.” While Gray as chairman of the D.C. Council almost cut streetcar funding to balance D.C.’s budget in May, he reversed his decision and a streetcar program is moving forward.
McKnight said he also feels that Fenty has lead the city to continual growth over the past four years, but agrees with the sentiment that the mayor has ignored crime in poorer wards of the city.
Despite the fact that most students at GW aren’t D.C. residents, Demczuk and one of the students who did the poll agreed it was important to get involved with civic politics while in D.C.
“I lived here for so long and didn’t understand the political atmosphere,” said Shakir Cannon-Moye, a recent graduate who helped conduct the supermarket poll.
“I got to understand all the wards and the people through this survey,” he said.
With the election results looming this Tuesday, Demczuk said he is confident that he has accurately measured the pulse of the D.C. political atmosphere.
He added that if GW alumnus Gray wins the election, he said there should be a certain level of pride and “a sense of accomplishment that one of our own is the mayor of one of the most important cities in the world.”