A majority of D.C. residents disapprove of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's job performance and even more believe he cares more about advancing his career than about the city's needs, according to an exclusive SurveyUSA poll commissioned by WJLA-TV.
SurveyUSA asked 500 D.C. residents several questions about Mayor Fenty re-election prospects one year before the District's Democratic primary.
The poll found 51 percent disapprove of the job he is doing, while 40 percent approve. Broken down by race, 69 percent of black voters disapproved of Fenty, compared with 23 percent who approved. That's almost the exact opposite for whites: 66 percent approved and 24 percent disapproved. Latino voters were split. Black voters account for more than half of the D.C. electorate. Whites make up about one-third.
Among Democrats, Fenty had a 54-percent disapproval rating. Throughout the survey, Democrats judged Fenty more harshly than Republicans or independents, who make up a very small percentage of District voters.
Fenty declined to comment on the poll's findings Friday.
"I've been around this city all my life, I've been around politics for a third of that time," Fenty told ABC 7's Suzanne Kennedy. "I just tend not to focus on polls."
Fifty-four percent of respondents said their opinion of Fenty has gotten worse since he took office in 2007. Only 11 percent had an improved opinion of him. About one-third -- 32 percent -- of respondents had no change in their opinions.
In perhaps the most damaging area of the poll, 58 percent thought Fenty more focused on advancing his career than on the community's needs. Twenty-seven percent found him more focused on the community; 14 percent were unsure. The career-minded label was most pronounced among African American voters, 69 percent, and Latinos, 57 percent. White voters were split.
As for two of the biggest issues in the District, crime and schools, the poll finds 72 percent believe crime has decreased (30%) or stayed the same (42%) in the past five years. Twenty-four percent thought crime had gotten worse.
School reform has been a focus of the Mayor, who took control of city schools and installed Michelle Rhee as chancellor after winning the 2006 mayoral race. Despite reform efforts, city residents give the school system a D+ grade point average (1.8). Only 3 percent of respondents rated the system an A; 15 percent said B, 37 percent C, 22 percent D, and 19 percent F.
A majority of District residents, 51 percent, believe the mayor and city work together "somewhat well". Four percent said very well. Thirty-nine percent thought Fenty and the Council did not get along.
Only two candidates have stepped forward to challenge Fenty: Leo Alexander, a former TV reporter and current independent insurance sales executive, and former accountant Sulaimon Brown, who has held behind the scenes political jobs.
The poll has a plus or minus 4.5 percent margin of error, except for the question about Fenty's focus, which had a 4.4 percent margin of error.