A new poll by the American Research Group (ARG) shows Mayor Levar Stoney and Councilmember Kim Gray at the top of the Richmond mayoral election. Stoney has 37 percent of voters, while Gray has 33 percent, with a 4.5 percent margin of error. The poll was first reported by the Richmond Free Press.
With 13 percent support, Alexsis Rodgers is barely ahead of Justin Griffin, who has 11 percent. Tracey McLean trails with 3 percent, and 2 percent of respondents were undecided. To win the election outright, a candidate must win five of Richmond’s nine districts; if no candidate wins five, the top two candidates will go into a runoff election, where they can hope to pick up votes from eliminated candidates. The telephone poll queried 540 registered voters between September 23 and 27.
Pundit Paul Goldman said that while he thinks the poll is reliable for Richmond overall, it doesn’t have a big enough sample size to detect how the districts will fall. “Things seem basically stable. Stoney got 37 percent when he ran the last time.”
Goldman said based on these numbers, Griffin seems to be taking votes away from Gray, but Gray has a better chance of taking votes from Stoney’s districts than the other way around. Goldman added, “Griffin’s numbers are pretty high… [It’s] hard for me to believe. But they’ve been a consistent thing in the polls.”
Goldman doesn’t think Rodgers, Griffin, or McLean will drop out. Despite only raising $24,730, Griffin is performing nearly as well as Rodgers, who has raised $223,196, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Gray has raised $255,151 and Stoney has raised $546,983.
The poll was commissioned by an anonymous party; Goldman said the ARG is credible and he doesn’t think the poll was paid for by one of the campaigns. “I think I know who it is, he’s got a lot of money and he’s done that in the past,” Goldman said. “He’s somebody who’s been around Richmond for a long time making money.”
“It’s not a poll that candidates do, at least what they’ve released, because it doesn’t give you any idea what you’re supposed to be doing.” Goldman said candidates should be polling by demographic to help identify where to focus resources. “One big district could make the difference, so it’s very important how you spread your resources. It’s a cheap investment.”
“It does tell you Stoney’s not particularly popular, but he has a lot of challengers, so that’s an advantage when you’re not popular.”
One thing is clear based on the poll, Goldman said. “The runoff is not going to happen. It’s either going to be Gray or Stoney. You only have the runoff when nobody wins five districts.” Goldman added, “Since Alexsis [Rodgers] and Justin [Griffin] can’t win a district, then nine districts are going to be divided up between the two major candidates, so one of them’s got to get five.”
None of the top four candidates offered comments to The Virginia Star.
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photos “Levar Stoney” by Levar Stoney Twitter and “Kim Gray” by Eric Burk/The Virginia Star. Background Photo “Richmond” by Jim.