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Politics by the Numbers

When Republican Bob Ehrlich took the governor's mansion four years, he relied on an electoral formula that turned the Democrats' recipe for success on its head. He didn't pick off any of the Democrat's three reliable strongholds: Montgomery and Prince George's counties and Baltimore.

Rather he ran up big totals in the counties ringing the city of Baltimore--Anne Arundel, Caroll, Howard, Harford and Baltimore counties. But the Post's latest poll, conducted last week and released today, shows that the governor who is announcing his re-election bid today has his work cut out for him if he's going to repeat that feat.

In November 2002, Ehrlich got a boost of more than 50,000 votes in the region consisting of Baltimore and Harford, Baltimore and Carroll counties. The poll shows him trailing likely Democratic nominee Martin O'Malley there by 12 points among registered voters

It shows the two candidates running even in the Central Maryland counties of Anne Arundel, Howard and Frederick, where Ehrlich won by more than 85,000 votes against then Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D).

O'Malley has, as expected, a large lead iin Montgomery and Prince George's, while Ehrlich easily takes the more rural parts of the state--Southern Maryland, the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland.

The results are not all bad for Ehrlich. His job approval rating sits at 56 percent, far higher than the 33 percent the Republican president registers in Maryland. And he gets high marks for honesty. likability and vision.

Ehrlich aides say the poll's horse race figure--with O'Malley leading by 11 percentage points among registered voters and 16 points among those most likely to vote-- does not match their own polling results. The campaign's latest poll in May put O'Malley's lead at about 5 points, said communications director Paul Schurick.

By Phyllis Jordan  |  June 28, 2006; 6:44 AM ET
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As happens so often, a right-wing bias on economics once again infects the Post's news reporting.

"the poll indicated that some might believe Ehrlich is too close to big business."

Some might believe!!!!! When "Two-thirds of the respondents said "large business corporations" had too much influence in the Ehrlich administration, and 77 percent said the legislature was right to force Wal-Mart to pay for health insurance for its employees."

And this is buried in the 22nd paragraph of the story. Right up in the first paragraph we read that "the state's voters give the governor good marks for the job he's done"

Not "some of the state's voters might give the governor good marks". Even though the actual results on this question were 56-41, a much smaller margin than the big business question.

Posted by: Ben | June 28, 2006 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Ehrlich's supporters want someone who stands for certain things. He's shown that he won't so some of them will pass on this election.

Buh-bye, Bob.

Posted by: Rufus | June 28, 2006 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Actually, Rufus, Ehrlich supporters are quite happy with the job he has done. He's generally held the line on tax increases, prevented any new gun control measures from being enacted, and tried to stand up to the legislature and its anti-business philosophy. We are very happy with the job he's done.

Posted by: MK | June 28, 2006 9:30 AM | Report abuse

"He's generally held the line on tax increases..."

Yeah, he calls them all fees.

Posted by: howie | June 28, 2006 9:43 AM | Report abuse

There is always so much complaining on this board about Maryland's "anti-business" philosophy. I'm sorry, but you have nothing to gripe about. Maryland has great job opportunities and low unemployment. I'm sorry business can't rape and pillage like they do everywhere else in this country that has "business friendly" politicians AKA associates with corporate interests. Boo hoo...

I'm glad to see Ehrlich go. I do agree that he is a likable guy, but that aside what major accomplishments does he have? Governors like Mark Warner (D) was very sucessful and popular in overwhelmingly Republican state because he was masterful at compromising with the opposition and he got things done for Virginia. You can't tell me that the Republican legislature in VA is any less partisan than the one in MD (in fact some of them are foaming at the mouth), yet Warner did get things done for VA. That can't be said about Ehrlich who when all else failed resorted to partisan games and straight up immature nonsense (anyone remember him closing his office when a late proposal came from the legislature?). I think Ehrlich would make a great governor in a Republican leaning state, but it's time for MD to get back to its Democratic roots.

Posted by: Mr. K | June 28, 2006 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Maryland's job opportunities and low unemployment have a lot more to do with its proximity to DC than anything the General Assembly has done. In areas of the state not near DC (such as where I live), it's a different story. The anti-business policies pursued by the Democrats at both the state and local level (it's not all the General Assembly's fault) certainly hurt our state.

As far as Ehrlich, I think it's good that his four years in office have produced gridlock. I am very fearful of the horrible legislation that will pass if we have a Democrat governor. Look at the mess Glendenning's term was. I don't want to see a repeat of that. Even though Ehrlich hasn't been able to accomplish much, he hasn't allowed the liberals to accomplish much, either. That's a good thing. For me, Ehrlich being in office is much more important for what won't be done than for what will be done.

Posted by: MK | June 28, 2006 10:35 AM | Report abuse

MK, you're advocating horrible (and useless)government. You're basically saying that it was a good thing that nothing got done. Warner certaintly was not the champion of Democratic leadership, in fact he let the Republicans get away with some crazy right wing nonsense, but at the end of the day good things happened for the people of Virginia. You're basically saying that any attempt at compromise be damned and to just accept 4 years of stalemate. I don't want to stereotype, but that reeks of typical Republican thinking. OUR way or the highway.

Posted by: Mr. K | June 28, 2006 11:06 AM | Report abuse

These numbers must be extremely depressing for Ehrlich, after 4 years all he has to show is that he's trailing O'Malley by SIXTEEN POINTS. O'Malley's lead is only likely to widen not shrink in heavy blue state Maryland where registered Dems outnumber Repubs 2 to 1 and Dems are now united behind O'Malley after Duncan dropped out. Ehrlich's situation is hopeless, he has already lost before the formal campaign has even started.

Posted by: rob | June 28, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I agree Rob, it's hopeless for Ehrlich. O'Malley wins in a total landslide by 20 points, mail it in.

Posted by: tom | June 28, 2006 11:35 AM | Report abuse

quite a bit has gotten done the last few years.

deficits are now surplusses
schools have received huge funding increases
test scores are up (except for Baltimore)
more kids are going to college
the Bay is cleaner
we have stem cell funding
there are 100,000 new jobs that weren't here before
the ICC is finally being built
more people have health insurance
disabled people are becoming a bigger and bigger part of our society
minority business development is far outpacing where it had been before
we have more green and open space preserved
and we don't have higher sales or incomes taxes despite the legislatures attempts otherwise.

I'd say quite a bit has been done.

Posted by: actually | June 28, 2006 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Your list of Ehrlich's accomplishments seems accurate, that's not in dispute. But nobody cares, at least not enough people care or give Ehrlich credit, which is reflected in today's poll where O'Malley is absolutely trouncing Ehrlich.

Posted by: but nobody cares | June 28, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Mr. K, I am not advocating gridlock in general, just here in Maryland. I'd be all in favor of something getting done to help the state, but the things I would like to see (taxes lowered, anti-business laws repealed, gun control laws relaxed, etc.) aren't going to happen with the current crop of Democratic leadership. And if a Dem governor gets elected, then it's likely that taxes will go up, more anti-business laws will be passed, and our rights to own guns will be further infringed. If that's the type of government policies we'd face with a Democrat governor, then I'll certainly support a Republican in the hopes that he'll stop them. If he does only that, then he's a success in my book.

Government doesn't have to "do something" to be a good government. Sometimes (probably most of the time) not doing anything at all is the best course of action for government.

As for the "our way or the highway" thinking, that's a very accurate description of the Democrats in the General Assembly.

Posted by: MK | June 28, 2006 12:05 PM | Report abuse


According to the article, the poll was conducted from June 19th until this past Sunday (June 25th). Duncan dropped out in the middle of the polling period. Does this poll reflect a post-Duncan race or does the data still assume there was a contested primary? I recognize that the Poll question is based on an O'Malley v. Ehrlich matchup in the general election, but I imagine Doug's departure would still alter these numbers as his supporters are now forced to focus on the remaining candidates rather than defering.

Posted by: Does the poll reflect Duncan's departure or not? | June 28, 2006 12:06 PM | Report abuse

We were worried about that, so took a close look at the figures, before and after Duncan's announcement. There was very little difference in the margin.

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | June 28, 2006 12:16 PM | Report abuse

O'Malley is the best candidate for Gov in the last 50 years in Md. He is a selfless politician, who relates remarkably well to your average Joe. He will run for President halfway through his 2nd term as Md. Gov. Good riddance, Ehrlich.

Posted by: tony | June 28, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I agree, O'Malley rocks, he's a Democrat, a musician, his wife's a judge, he has 4 kids, he's got all the bases covered and a bag of chips. O'Malley for President in 2012.

Posted by: audrey | June 28, 2006 12:32 PM | Report abuse

There are about 4,000,000 people in Maryland. About 3or 4 decided to run for Governor. One dropped out. Now, some in the press and some who are paid to do polls are telling all the rest of us that the election is over and that, in effect, we are superfluous; for, their superior knowledge should prevail. Nonsense. Stop writing about polls. There is only one that counts and that is the one on November 7.

Posted by: Robin Ficker, Independent for County Executive | June 28, 2006 12:55 PM | Report abuse

MK, that's my point exactly. The Republicans are notorious for lock-set single minded voting and yet in Virginia where they had a Democratic governor, big initiatives were able to come to fruition due to bi-partisan comproimse. Ehrlich could have followed in Warner's footsteps, but like most Republicans (as seen by our wonderful Republican led federal legislature), it's easier to grind everything to a halt and spit venom than work with the opposition.

Posted by: Mr. K | June 28, 2006 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Anyone thing that Mr. Ficker's populist attitude about polls would change if suddenly one came out showing him leading against Silverman or Leggett?

When someone conducts a poll (assuming it is not a push poll, which is illegal), they are not "telling all the rest of us that the election is over", but rather taking a snapshot of opinion at the time poll is conducted.

If people on this board or other sources of media which to speculate as to what the poll means that is their right as Americans. And while we do still maintain some semblance of freedom of speech in this country, I would encourage people to utilize it, whether or not Mr. Ficker agrees with you.

Posted by: hating polls when they don't include you | June 28, 2006 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe that a sample of 400 people can tell us how 4,000,000 are thinking. I think Robin Ficker should exercise his right to free speech and volunteer to pay the way of the power elite editors and pollsters who tell us our elections are over months before they are actually held and that our votes don't count to someplace south of the equator until November 8

Posted by: angelina | June 28, 2006 1:43 PM | Report abuse

O'Malley will lead in poll after poll after poll, including the final poll on election day.

Posted by: come on, it's over | June 28, 2006 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I don't think any of this really matter, I mean the position of MD Governor is a complete nonentity in the grand scheme of things, especially on a national level, and doesn't really affect any lives of average Marylanders in any way, shape, or form. It's a lot of hype over nothing really.

Posted by: tony | June 28, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Mr. K, how can you realistically claim that Democrats in Maryland are open to compromise when you look at their record. Hell, they know they have the votes so they pass a bill they know Republicans can't stand, watch Ehrlich veto it, and then override his veto. How are they interested in working with Republicans?

And as far as being interested in compromise, why should certain values be compromised? For instance, let's say the Democrats want to raise the Maryland income tax (which I wouldn't put past them if O'Malley is elected). Dems want to raise it, say, by 1 percentage point. To compromise would mean that Republicans should accept a half percentage point increase. Hell no! They should fight it completely and try to kill it. Compromise is not always a good thing, and that's not a Republican or a Democrat value -- that's just the reality of politics. It's often better to prevent your opponents from enacting harmful legislation than to try and pass not-quite-so-harmful legislation instead. No legislation is better than flawed legislation.

Posted by: MK | June 28, 2006 3:42 PM | Report abuse

MK-- Your no compromise philosophy is exactly why Ehrlich is going to get flushed down the toilet into the sewer by O'Malley.

Posted by: see ya | June 28, 2006 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I don't think my philosophy has anything to do with Ehrlich's chances of winning. I've never even met the man and his campaign isn't calling me for advice.

There is nothing wrong with refusing to compromise with what you perceive as a bad idea. Did the Democrats try and compromise with Bush on Social Security reform? No, they saw it as a bad idea and defeated it. Did the Maryland Democrats compromise with Ehrlich on the Wal-mart bill? No, they steamrolled over him.

No politician values compromise in and of itself. They value compromise as a means to an end, and if compromising won't help them get to that end, then they won't do it.

Posted by: MK | June 28, 2006 6:09 PM | Report abuse

You're trying to put lipstick on a pig MK. If the Democrats had a partner to baragin with instead of the right wing nuts that some how get into the legislature (what happened to moderate Republicans?) then working together does often happen. Virginia had a similar dynamic with Democrats being in a woeful minority in the legislature and a Democratic governor, yet under Warner big initiatives were passed through. Although I don't like that Warner passed the buck on certain issues, he beleived that the PEOPLE of VA were best served when government moved forward and worked for them. He really did his best to keep partisan fighting low. Because he actually gave a rat's behind about the people, he comproimsed. That type of integrity is missing from the Ehrlich administration.

I would also like to mention that while Ehrlich didn't raise taxes, he did tack on a whole lot of fees all over the place. I know the word "taxes" is like a screeching siren to Republicans, but call it what you like citizens ended up paying more to the government.

And on Walmart, obviously the people are against Ehrlich on this one. 77% of those polled agreed the legislature should have taxed Walmart. And just because you brought Walmart up, read this:
The short story is if Walmart lowered its profit margin from 3.6% to 2.9% it would free up 2.3 billion dollars that could be used for better employee wages and benefits. This way, Walmart does not have to raise prices for consumers. Yes, poor Walmart having to pay the state for scamming their employees when they're swimming in profits *more boo hoo hooing*.

Posted by: Mr. K | June 28, 2006 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Again, Mr. K, if the Democrats actually had some good proposals, maybe there would be more compromise. They sure didn't seem to want to work with Ehrlich on his proposals.

As far as fees, I'm fine with them. People who use government services should pay for them. Fees are certainly more fair than taxing everyone.

On Wal-Mart, I'm curious as to how much of that 77% support was due to how the question was phrased. You and I both know that on questions such as this a lot depends on how you ask the question. Let me do a survey and phrase it something like this -- "Wal-Mart currently has health care coverage available for over 80% of its employees. Should the state increase taxes on Wal-Mart because 5% of its employees are on Medicaid, compared to 4% for other retailers?"

BTW, a 3.6% profit margin is incredibly low, you know.

Posted by: MK | June 28, 2006 7:42 PM | Report abuse

If you would like to do the legwork and get the details of the poll I'm all for it; however, I don't think it's a particually strong line of defense to question the supposed bias (or lack thereof) of the poll. I don't believe the Washington Post has a record of pasting maniuplated/biased polls for it's millions of readers. That wouldn't make for credible journalism. Maybe Phyllis can talk to that...

Yes, 3.6% is not very high, but with the volume of Walmart that is billions of dollars (yes, BILLIONS). Smaller and mid-sized business need higher profit margins to prosper and grow. The largest retailer in the world however, does not (at least not at the expense of their employees). I would also like to add that Costco has a 2.9% profit margin and provides the best benefits and wages of any of the big retailers. They are also very sucessful.

Posted by: Mr. K | June 28, 2006 8:20 PM | Report abuse

If Mr. K and MK agree to go out on a date, I think Ms. Jordan should pick up the tab!

Posted by: James | June 28, 2006 8:44 PM | Report abuse

OK, I found the question from the poll -- "Do you support or oppose the state legislature's decision to force Wal-Mart to spend more on employee health benefits?"

As I understand it, though, that's not what the bill does. It increases taxes on Wal-Mart if it doesn't spend a certain percentage of its revenue on health care. And of course we could argue whether or not the respondents knew anything about the bill or the facts of the case, but that's true for any poll.

As far as Wal-Mart's profit margin, I find it interesting that you think they are making profits "at the expense of their employees." Because they don't pay them more? By your logic, then, any business that makes a profit is exploiting its employees because they could always cut their profit margin and pay them more. That's not how business works. Businesses pay the wage the market will bear. People agree to work for that wage. It's a voluntary transaction.

I know that liberals think that people are stupid and are being exploited (modern liberalism is incredibly paternalistic, and that's why it fails to resonate with the average voter). However, people aren't stupid. They know their options and they make the choice to work for Wal-Mart. Without Wal-Mart in many areas, these people would have no jobs. And if the liberals in Maryland succeed in their anti-Wal-Mart campaign, we could see fewer jobs in Maryland. At least people wouldn't be "exploited" then, I guess.

Posted by: MK | June 29, 2006 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I've often wondered if Mr. K and MK are related. Same last initial.

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | June 29, 2006 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Ehrlich's taken a big loss among Roman Catholic votes and for good reason.

Buh bye, Bob.

Posted by: Rufus | June 29, 2006 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I can't help but notice that Gov Ehrlich is running on the mantra that he "keeps his promises." That theme would appear to go to the heart of his message that Mayor O'Malley cannot be trusted and has a very troubling history of breaking promises and vows.

Posted by: rob | June 29, 2006 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Ehrlich seems to do better when he is trailing. He's barely touched campaigning while O'Malley has been running consistent ads and politicalt stunts for four months now attacking the Governor. Add in that his approval rating is in the high 50's, he is an incumbent, and things are going well in MD and I find it hard to believe O'Malley stands a snowballs chance in hell of beating Governor Ehrlich.

I mean let's be honest, does anyone really want O'Malley in the state house? I can see it now--someone is on the local radio station and he hears them disagreeing with his policies so he has his state police drive him over there to go on the radio live and challenge the person to fight outside of the radio station saying he'll kick their a** outside.......oh wait, he already did that as Mayor.

I've been hearing from several staunch O'Malley supporters that Ehrlich can't work with Busch and Miller despite solving a $4 billion budget, getting the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act, witness intimidation legislation, etc. I have to ask them how they can honestly say this when their candidate is busy calling the Baltimore City State's Attorney "that gdamn b**ch needs to do her gdamn job!" And does this while drawing stick figure pictures of her at public meetings.

What has O'Malley done for Baltimore? Crime is supposedly down, well no, it was down and now it is back up (conveniently back up after the calls for audits of the crime stats). Schools are better, well no, actually a federal judge ordered that the special education program be taken over, middle school failure is at an all time high, and graduaton rates as measured by an non-partisan education institution have Baltimore in the very bottom of the ranks for major US cities. Tell me, what is Mayor O'Malley running on?

All I can think of is that O'Malley was in a rock band focusing on building $300 million convention centers when his schools were failing and crime was rising all around him. When people criticized him he threatened to kick their *** and blamed others for his own failures (the supposed elected leaders he's supposed to work with).

Posted by: Bryan | July 2, 2006 9:00 PM | Report abuse

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