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New Poll Numbers

There are several competitve races in this year's Democratic primary, but many Maryland voters appear unlikely to support Republicans in the general election, according to a new poll released this morning.

The poll by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies found that no front-runner in this year's race for the Democratic nomination for governor, U.S. Senate or Comptroller has an insurmountable lead over their closest Democratic opponent.

The poll suggests Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D) could lose his bid for reelection while Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) was nine points behind Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley for their party's nomination for governor.

In the race for the U.S. Senate, Rep. Ben Cardin (D-Md) leads Kweisi Mfume, the former congressman and head of the NAACP, 39 percent to 31 percent, with 4% for Lise Van Sustern, 2% for Allan Lichtman, 1% each for Josh Rales and Dennis Rasmussen.

In the Comptroller's race, Del. Peter Franchot (D-Montgomery) is just seven points behind Schaefer, results similar to a recent poll commissioned by Franchot's campaign. The poll shows Schaefer with 40 percent of the vote compared to Franchot's 33 percent. Because Franchot remains relatively unknown, Pollster Patrick Gonzales called the results an "ominous sign" for Schaefer.

The gap between O'Malley and Duncan is also in the single digits. O'Malley was supported by 44 percent of voters while 35 percent backed Duncan. Duncan holds a commanding lead in the Washington suburbs, but O'Malley is outpacing the county executive in every other part of the state.

Regardless of which Democrat wins the nomination for governor or Senate, the poll suggests it could be a tough year for Republican candidates. Just 29 percent of Maryland voters approve of President Bush's job performance while 67 percent disapprove. Even fewer Marylanders, 24 percent, approve of the way Bush is executing the war in Iraq.

Ehrlich is doing considerably better, with half of all voters approving of him or his policies. But the poll found Ehrlich trailing O'Malley and, to a lesser extent, Duncan. In a matchup against O'Malley, the mayor beats Ehrlich 46 percent to 41 percent. (That compares to a 48-42 lead for O'Malley in an October Gonzales poll) Duncan would beat Ehrlich by two points, within the poll's margin of error and about the same as the October poll results.

Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the likely GOP candidate for Senate, also trails both Cardin and Mfume. Cardin would beat Steele by 14 points, while Mfume would win by 5 percentage points, according to the poll. In the October poll, Cardin beat Steele by nine points and Steele actually beat Mfume by two.

Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies interviewed 819 likely voters, including 423 likely Democratic primary voters, between April 4 and April 13. The poll has a margin or error of plus or minus 3.5 percent in general election matchups and 5 percent in results for the Democratic primary.

By Tim Craig  |  April 17, 2006; 11:52 PM ET
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O'Malley has a solid lead and for the most part hasn't had to tap his significant campaign bank account while Duncan is burning cash at an astonishing rate.

At this rate, the race will continue to tighten up as we get closer to September, but Duncan will lose this race in a landslide to O'Malley -- plus, those numbers in Montgomery County are pretty weak for Duncan.

Posted by: More Great News For O'Malley | April 18, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse

It's interesting that of the 819 likely voters, 413 of them were likely Democratic primary voters. That's less than 50% of the likely voters polled... in a state where it's widely known that registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans approximately 2-to-1.

I'm just curious, but shouldn't the make up of those polled more accurately match the demographics of those registered and likely to vote?

Posted by: corbett | April 18, 2006 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Let me correct the comment above... I mistyped, as anyone can see that 413 is just a smidge more than 50% of 819, not 'less than'.

Posted by: corbett | April 18, 2006 11:03 AM | Report abuse

None of the democrats have an "insurmountable" lead - suggests that the republicans can potentially beat them in the races you cited. Please check the meaning of 'insurmountable'.

I am pleased - but originally was confused.

Posted by: Phillip Gonzales | April 18, 2006 11:35 AM | Report abuse


I do not have exact numbers in front of me, but a growing number of voters register as independant. The poll probably includes a fair number of independants to match current voting trends in Maryland

Posted by: TimCraig | April 18, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Actually, roughly 50% of the sample being Democrats is probably about right. Remember, the full sample probably includes a good chunk of Independents. The breakdown Gonzales used is probably around 50%D-25%R-25%I. That would still calculate to a 2-1 advantage for Democrats over Republicans

Posted by: Fred | April 18, 2006 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Damn, I got beat by Mr. Craig while I was typing...

Posted by: Fred | April 18, 2006 11:41 AM | Report abuse

If you go to the direct link for the poll:

Here is the breakdown Gonzales claimed he used:

Democrat 458 (56%)
Republican 263 (32%)
Independent 98 (12%)

The full sample was 819 REGISTERED voters. But for the Democratic primary, the full link for the poll indicates that this was done among 423 LIKELY voters. Apparently Gonzales feels the Democrats will have 423/458 = 92.3% turnout. Seems high to me, but maybe the 423 likely voters is a different group of people than the original 819 registered voters. Gonzales' write up is not very clear.

Posted by: Fred | April 18, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Craig,

You appear to have an small error in your post. The number of likely voters in the poll according to the link in the comment above is 423, not 413.

No big deal, but accuracy matters....

Posted by: Fred | April 18, 2006 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for fixing that

Posted by: Fred | April 18, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Good job with the numbers...

Like the candidates during the primary season, I forgot about the independents. HA!

Posted by: corbett | April 18, 2006 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for your wonderful newsletter, "Maryland Moment". It contains good information by way of Maryland articles and links to various political sites, with the exception of the U.S. Senate race. Regarding this race, I notice that you have omitted Corrogan R. Vaughn, who filed as a Republican candidate with the FEC on or about March 11, 2005 and with the Maryland Board of Elections on or about July 11, 2005. As Chief of Staff for Corrogan R. Vaughn, I respectfully request that you add his name and website,, to your Maryland Moment information under U.S. Senate. Should you require additional information on Mr. Vaughn and/or his campaign, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for your kind attention to this request.

Posted by: Melanie K. Wooten | April 18, 2006 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the numbers may be skewed a bit toward the Dem side if anything because of the over sample of Dem primary voters who are likely more partisan than regular general election Dem voters and thus less likely to be willing to vote for Ehrlich or Steele. So the Republicans and Independents in the poll are a general election sample (not the most partisan who tend to vote in primaries) while the Dems in the poll are the most partisan Dems (likely primary voters). Still interesting information, but worth noting.

Posted by: MD Voter | April 18, 2006 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I think that when they crunched the numbers they weighted them to prevent a Democratic oversample. The final sample's figure of 56%D-32%R is in line with the statewide registration figures. (If anything, the GOP figure may be a couple of points too high.)

Posted by: MHK919 | April 18, 2006 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Anyway you slice the sampling, the numbers aren't good for the GOP, for a sitting governor to be trailing two local leaders; a sitting Lt. Governor to be trailing a congressman and former NAACP president. Now the number crunching may be more important in the primaries, but these numbers are more important to the campaigns than for us, regular folk.

Posted by: RCDennis | April 18, 2006 5:11 PM | Report abuse

thanks for posting the poll results. I'm hoping that Franchot can raise enough money to run enough of a campaign that we can learn who this guy is. He appears to have energy and passion in abundance (and has the the # 1 attribute of NOT being Schaefer).

Interesting too that amid all the trashing that Duncan takes from a few commenters here, his poll numbers haven't slipped at all. It seems to me that O'Malley has a lead, but doesn't have momentum. If Duncan can continue to chip away, build something more in the Baltimore region, we could have a race.

Posted by: Prince George's voter | April 18, 2006 5:43 PM | Report abuse

How is it possible that the Franchot commissioned poll had O'Malley down only 5 points in MoCo. Was that poll skewed or was this poll skewed?
Also, was the regional weighting correct? Will the turnout in PG and MC be less than the turn out in Baltimore county?

Posted by: Montgomery voter | April 19, 2006 12:45 AM | Report abuse

MV voter:

The polls likely are created to be accurate statewide within a margin of error. But to be accurate in any given jurisdiction would require a much larger sample in that jurisdiction.

That is, the point of the poll was not to confidently state what the gap is in each county.

Does that help?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2006 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Wow! These numbers are really skewed. 92% percent turn out for a primary, who does Gonzales think he's kidding?

Posted by: Ted | April 19, 2006 1:29 PM | Report abuse

So which poll do you think is more accurate in MoCo-- the Franchot commissioned poll or the Gonzales poll?

Posted by: MV voter | April 19, 2006 1:50 PM | Report abuse

If I may make a comment about some missing links on the Maryland Moment page; I cannot find any mention of Maryland's OFFICIAL -- as in recognized -- minor parties. What gives? If the State recognizes them, then what is stoping WaPo?

Posted by: Nat | April 19, 2006 2:05 PM | Report abuse

If you look at the poll questions for the Senate race, you have to wonder how accurate it is at this point. Several question near the end of a looooong telephone interview all dealing with a Cardin-Steel, Cardin-Mfume match-up then as an afterthough aking people to consider a long not name rotated list of the other candidates. It looks like the top of the list got the most numbers and the bottom of the list got the least. This is a skewed result.

Posted by: Gerry | April 26, 2006 3:14 PM | Report abuse

thank you very much for your help. You guys 36355 rock, thanks again.

Posted by: Tuki Medaber | September 14, 2006 8:09 PM | Report abuse

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