Poll finds Mayor's popularity dangerously low (Washington Post)
- 'Good News' for Mayor: No Recall Yet
By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 4, 2003; Page DZ02
The only shred of good news for Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) in last
week's WTOP/ABC 7 poll is that voters are not yet unhappy enough to
actually remove him from office, in the manner of former California
governor Gray Davis.
But measured any other way, this was a stinker of a poll for the
mayor, who continues to lose support, especially among African
Before we get to the numbers, it's worth noting that the poll, done
by the respected Potomac Survey Research in Bethesda, is not of all
city residents, or even all voters. It was of Democratic voters.
And contrary to the natural political dynamics pretty much anyplace
else, Williams may do better with Republicans and independents than
with active Democrats, who are the ones who should be the core
supporters of the party's nominal leader.
That said, among this group Williams has an approval rating of 45
percent, below the 50 percent mark that political strategists
consider when attempting to gauge an incumbent's vulnerability.
Anything below the halfway mark screams: Take this guy on, and the
sooner the better.
The underlying numbers and trends are worse still. In the last
comprehensive Washington Post poll, in May 2002, his approval rating
was 64 percent, which was down from 77 percent in February 2000. Now,
numbers from different pollsters should not be regarded as exactly
comparable, but the plot here looks clear.
In addition, the softening among African Americans noted in that Post
poll (72 percent to 54 percent from 2000 to 2002) has grown more
serious for the mayor. His approval rating among black voters in the
new poll was down to 32 percent, a truly anemic showing.
The mayor's white support is sinking as well. The Post poll put his
support among this group at an unearthly 83 percent. The WTOP/ABC 7
poll put that number at 64 percent, which is still healthy but headed
in the wrong direction.
The frustration does not translate into support for the fledgling
recall effort aimed at Williams. Only 21 percent of all Democratic
voters said they would sign a petition to recall the mayor, and a
similar number said they would vote to remove him if such an election
So we don't need to prepare for a Mayor Schwarzenegger, or, more
plausibly, Mayor Chris Rock. But for Williams, who has not ruled out
a try for a third term, the numbers ought to be chilling. Hard to win
in a majority-black city if African Americans have turned on you in