New poll shows Mayor Stoney ahead in re-election bid

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 10/1/2020, 6 p.m.
Less than 40 percent of Richmond’s voters support the re-election of Mayor Levar M. Stoney, but with just a month ...
Mayor Stoney

Less than 40 percent of Richmond’s voters support the re-election of Mayor Levar M. Stoney, but with just a month to go, he appears to be on track to win at least five council districts in again facing a splintered opposition, a new poll of Richmond voters indicates.

Produced by the American Research Group, the telephone poll of 540 regis- tered voters between Sept. 23 and Sept. 27 found Mayor Stoney significantly ahead in majority African-American council districts 5,6,7,8 and 9.

To win election as Richmond mayor, a candidate must secure the most votes in five of the nine council districts, even if the winning total in each is less than 50.1 percent, according to the City Charter.

Mayor Stoney followed that same track in 2016 when he also faced several opponents and won five districts with only 36 percent of the popular vote.

In the current race, the poll found his closest rival, 2nd District City Councilwoman Kim B. Gray, leads in her home district and the 1st District, with the mayor and Ms. Gray essentially tied in districts 3 and 4, based on the poll’s 4.5 percentage point margin of error.

The Free Press was provided a copy of the poll on the condition that the group that commissioned ARG to perform it would remain anonymous. This is a follow-up to an initial ARG poll that the Free Press reported on in July. At that time, the mayor led in four districts.

The poll indicated that the three other challengers, M. Justin Griffin, Tracey V. McLean and Alexsis D. Rodgers, collectively have 27 percent of the vote, essentially blunting Ms. Gray’s momentum.

The new poll found that 37 percent of voters support Mayor Stoney and 33 percent support Ms. Gray. The others in the race trail far behind, with Ms. Rodgers supported by 13 percent, Mr. Griffin by 11 percent and Ms. McLean by 3 percent, the poll found. Another challenger, Michael J. Gilbert, dropped out earlier this month.

According to the poll, most people have made up their minds, with only 2 percent of respondents undecided.

Still, the poll found a clear majority who do not give the mayor high marks on his management of City Hall.

A review of the information on the poll’s respondents found they generally tracked the city’s demographics on age, race and gender. Each district was listed as having 60 respondents.

Early voting is now underway, with Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, as the final day to cast a ballot.