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Friday, January 17, 2014

None of the Above beats Mayor Gray 26% to 24%, WAPO buries this deadline

The Washington Post published the results of a poll this week to much fanfare, mainly because as they read it it showed that Mayor Gray, currently under investigation by the FBI for violation of campaign finance laws, was much more popular than any of the others running in the Democratic primary, to be held, without irony, on April 1.

The local punditocracy was very excited and Twitter was atwitter.

The Post's DC politics blogger Mike Debonis himself teased readers with an advance notice:  "Get yerselves some popcorn, folks: Washington Post poll on D.C. mayor race coming shortly."  After the polls were published he followed up with "Post poll: Vincent Gray strongly rebounds from 2012 doldrums, holds double-digit lead over all challengers;" a link to graphical presentations - "The poll in pretty pictures:;" and one bit of bad news for Mayor Gray - "Most fascinating number, though: Gray/Catania general election matchup is 43/40 among all registered voters, a statistical tie."  David Catania, an independent on the DC city council, is a former Republican and one of the council's two gay members, and is widely viewed as a reformer, and advocate of transparency and accountability.  DC political junkies are surprised that there is a chance that the next mayor of DC could be white.  And gay.  And a former Republican.

Other Post reporter's tweeted out other surprising aspects of the polling data.  Local news reporter Paul Schwartzman tweeted that the almost albino Jack Evans, who has represented Georgetown and other "white" neighborhoods in NW DC as the Ward 2 city councilman since the early 90s (DC voters approved a term limits referendum in the mid 90s by a two thirds majority, but the city council declared it invalid), beat Muriel Bowser, a younger black woman who is currently the Ward 4 city councilwoman, in the mainly African American Wards 7 and 8 (Marion Barry's stomping rounds) east of the Anacostia River.

The Post did note that none of the Democrats running have very much support, with Mayor Gray topping them at 24%, and the others all down in the 2%-12% range, and ran an Op Ed calling for run off elections in future DC primaries.

But the Post completely missed who came out on top in their own poll - it wasn't Mayor Gray as they claimed.  It was None of the Above.  None of the Above beat Mayor Gray 26% to 24% - the Post poll just broke the NOTA voters up into subcategories like "other," "no one," and "no opinion," and then stuck them at the bottom of the results and didn't discuss them.

I pointed this out via twitter to the local twitter commentariat and received replies like "oh, half of those people don't vote."  And that may be correct.  They don't like the choices they are ofered in the general elections either.  Nationally 40% of voting age Americans didn't vote, more than the 30% who voted for Obama or the 29% who voted for Romney.  And in DC almost as fifth of people (17.5%) who register to vote register "No Party" (most famously this week gay former Republican and Capitol Hill resident Jimmy LaSalvia), even though this puts them outside of DC's closed primaries, and makes their vote in November often irrelevant, since 90% of DC offices are always won by the person who won the Democratic primary months earlier.  A fifth of DC voters really, really do not like the two establishment parties.

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Pranav Badhwar for Ward 6

Pranav Badhwar for Ward 6
Pranav Badhwar for Ward 6

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