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Montgomery Poll Shows Modest Lead for Duncan


A new poll shows Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan with only a modest lead in his home county over Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley in the Democratic primary for governor.

But Duncan's camp quickly dismissed the numbers, since they came in a poll commissioned by opponents of the intercounty connector--some of whom oppose the county executive's campaign.

The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research and reported yesterday on WTOP radio, shows Duncan leading O'Malley 41 percent to 35 percent, with 24 percent undecided. The survey of 500 registered Democrats in Montgomery was conducted between March 9 and March 14 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Most analysts agree that Duncan will have to dominate Montgomery County to win the September primary over O'Malley, who is far better known in the expansive Baltimore media market.

In a brief interview, Duncan disputed the results, saying that "this doesn't fit with anything we've seen. ..... We're doing very well in Montgomery County."

Aides also played down the numbers, given the poll was paid for by environmental groups, including the Audubon Naturalist Society, which has sparred with Duncan over the proposed road that would connect Interstates 270 and 95.

An Audubon lobbyist was listed as a hostess for a fundraiser last year for O'Malley, though she backed out after she learned the activity was not permitted under Maryland law.

Mark Elrich, a county council candidate who has endorsed O'Malley, also paid part of the poll's cost.

Larry Harris of Mason-Dixon said the poll also included questions about the ICC, the results of which will be released today. He said the questions about the governor's race were asked before the ICC questions.

Jonathan Epstein, O'Malley's campaign manager, said the results from Montgomery indicate that voters are responding to O'Malley's "positive message and vision" and rejecting Duncan's "negative attack-style politics."

John Wagner

By Phyllis Jordan  |  March 21, 2006; 5:40 PM ET
Categories:  Governor  
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Mr. Wagner, I wish you had put the poll's backers affiliations above the poll. How can anyone with half a brain not see that this poll is biased?

It's a poll backed by O'Malley supporters and wild-eyed NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) who have little interest in good policy.

Shame on WTOP for going in on that poll.

Posted by: Paul | March 21, 2006 8:52 PM | Report abuse

The Council candidate is "Marc Elrich"; he's on the Takoma Park City Council. And don't attack the poll just because you don't like the results. Mason Dixon is a respected organization. We all know that if the same company produced a poll showing Duncan was close to O'Malley in Baltimore, Duncan and company would be crowing about it twenty-four/seven.

Posted by: Pepe le Moco | March 21, 2006 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Woof, woof, woof . . . that's the sound Duncan will hear every day when he loses to O'Malley and is forced to take a job as a dog catcher in Montgomery County.

Mr. Wagner, on a serious note, since most of the stories your editor won't put in the Metro page of the Post now appear on this blog page, I wonder if you feel your editor's decision was correct or ethical, given the newsworthiness of this story.

The cozy relationship that the Post has with Duncan is becoming nothing short of disgusting and an embarassment for your paper and the field of journalism as a whole.

Tip for the editors at the Post:

1. If a news story emerges that is truly newsworthy like this one and even if the story portrays Duncan as a losing political candidate, like this one, don't bury it on the blog page.

2. Take a page from the Baltimore Sun, which has no problem of scrutinizing O'Malley's record as Mayor, while the Post plays lap dog to Duncan.

3. If I forgot to mention this during my rant, stop killing any story that portrays the Duncan campaign in a negative light if the story is newsworthy.

4. What did the Post miss by not running this as a full fledged story in its Metro page?

A full examination of the fact that Mason Dixon is a respected polling organization that runs polls for news organizations all over the U.S. and has done so for many years.

I am truly disapointed that the Post refuses to accurately report what is going on in this campaign, especially if it involves a negative portrayal of the Duncan campaign.

You basically let the Duncan campaign call the shots on this story even though his campaign's argument against the results of the poll were truly childish and unprofessional.

Get with it Post.

Posted by: Duncan4DogCatcher | March 22, 2006 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Hey "Duncan4DogCatcher": Chill! I've got no problem with the Post or its coverage. This story is covered in the Post's Metro section this morning on page 2. I've got no use for Duncan, but your criticism of the Post is WAY off base.

Posted by: Pepe le moco | March 22, 2006 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Pepe, thanks for alerting me . . . I'm sure glad the Post buried this story on page 2 of the Metro section . . . yeah, everyone will see it on page 2 . . . and I especially love how the article did nothing to examine whether Mason Dixon is a respected polling organization . . . gotta love that.

Thanks Post for putting the story on page 2.

Posted by: Duncan4DogCatcher | March 22, 2006 8:43 AM | Report abuse

I understand the poll may be biased but it would not surprise me that Duncan is not way out in front in MC. Being from MC I can tell you the traffic is a nightmare almost every day. We all know the developers are feeding the county council and Duncan is not putting up a fight. Developers just recently received a slap on the wrist for gross violations of building codes. In other words, what has Duncan done to improve MC's quality of life? I don't think it comes down to him being a bad executive, just that he is not a good one, and his resume does not come up to the qualifications we need for a govenor.

Posted by: Sully | March 22, 2006 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Disappointing poll results for a competent guy and well liked and appreciated County Executive. Duncun should be playing up his positives in MoCo (rather than beating up other Democrats in BaltCo). The schools and parks are just great in MoCo. Diversity is being embraced and the middle class thrives. Business is booming and MoCo is a destination for commerce rather than just a place to sleep. Mr. Duncun - sell that and go after the Republican Governor and you'll poll better. It's not too late.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 22, 2006 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Its over, Its over, its over, Duncan is finished.

Posted by: Duncan is Done | March 22, 2006 9:32 AM | Report abuse

As my name states, this is who Dunan is and has always been during his political career . . . a politician in the back pocket of greedy land developers who have literally clogged Montgomery County's roads and schools and basically ruined everyone's quality of life.

Nice showing in that poll Doug . . . O'Malley could actually win Montgomery County.

Posted by: Developer Doug | March 22, 2006 9:56 AM | Report abuse

As John Wagner's editor and the blogmistress here, i'll comment on our play of the poll story. Since we have our own polling department at the Post, we generally do not do full stories on other people's polls, but we do occasionally include their results in broader stories on a particular race or in notebook-type features--and now on the blog.

Since we had a notebook of legislative items planned for today's paper, we included it.

Before running results of any poll, I check with the Post's experts to assess whether the polling firm and the poll's parameters are credible.

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | March 22, 2006 10:26 AM | Report abuse

When the final story is written about this campaign, analysts will point to Duncan's weak base of support in Montgomery County as the central reason why Duncan lost to O'Malley.

And why would a three term County Exec. have such a weak base of support in his own county?

Many will call it Duncan fatigue, but you can also point to Duncan's "End Gridlock" campaign, where he personally attacked his fellow citizens for having different viewpoints on development issues.

Duncan should have NEVER campaigned against a large portion of his fellow Mont. Co. citizens. They never forgot and now they are seeking their revenge on the 400 pound developer county executive they call Doug.

Posted by: Duncan4DogCatcher | March 22, 2006 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Ms. Jordan, for the clarification. I hope you don't mind my asking whether the Post's own polling department is planning to do any similar polling in the near future. The results of such a poll might help us all decide how reliable the Mason Dixon poll results are.

Posted by: Pepe le moco | March 22, 2006 10:44 AM | Report abuse

We are discussing now when and how many polls to do. Stay tuned.

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | March 22, 2006 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Unbelievable . . . a poll comes out by a reputable polling organization that suggests piss poor support for Duncan in his own county, and no one believes the results.

Everyone stay calm -- the results of the Mason Dixon poll are REAL.

Posted by: Duncan4DogCatcher | March 22, 2006 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Get rid of any elected official who supported the ICC. A multi-billion dollar boondoggle for the builders. traffic on 270 and 495 will get worse, not better.
If you want empty roads, move to a small town in West Virginia.

Posted by: no-icc | March 22, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Dear Duncan4DogCatcher- How are you? You seem so angry all the time, really about everything. I think I would be afraid to almost be around you.. Your words just come across so mad and angry. Like its just a poll. Really it was a small sample of people polled to hear their opinions. Relax- there will be many more polls after this. Take a breather buddy.

Posted by: Veronica | March 22, 2006 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Duncan for dog catcher? I don' think he could do that job right. Seriously though we need an Intercounty Connector and what is sad is that though Doug Duncan publicly has a pro-transportation cloak around him he has actually done very little to improve transit in the county. The anti-connector environmental groups are just as phony. As soon as any one mentions a light rail right of way the environmental groups find the county version of the infamous snail darter and claim that light rail righs of way are not environmentally friendly.

Posted by: Mike | March 22, 2006 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Veronica, yes, I'm angry that Duncan has worked hard during his 3 terms as County Exec. to rubber stamp an agenda that has clogged our roads, our schools and bascially ruined our quality of life.

Posted by: Duncan4DogCatcher | March 23, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

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