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Governor's Race Tightens


With the official launch of the General Election less than two weeks away, the race for governor of Maryland has tightened, according to one recent poll..

Polls over the summer showed Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, the Democrat, with a double-digit lead over incumbent Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).

But an independent statewide poll released today shows O'Malley's lead winnowed down to just four points.

O'Malley had the support of 46 percent of registered voters to Ehrlich's 42 percent, with 11 percent still undecided, according to the poll of 843 voters conducted by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies from August 18th to the 25th. It has a margin of error of three-and-one-half percentage points. A Gonzales poll in April had the race at 46 to 41 for O'Malley.

The poll contained lots of good news for Maryland's Republicans, including better numbers for the party's U.S. Senate candidate, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, and an upswing for President Bush, whose unpopularity has been the strategic centerpiece of the Democratic campaign strategy here.

The poll found job approval for President Bush was 36 percent, up from 29 percent in April.

By  |  August 30, 2006; 8:05 AM ET
Categories:  Governor  
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Has Gonzales or any of his employees or business entities been paid to do any polling for either candidate? Have they made any political contributions to either candidate. If the answer to both questions is NO then Gonzales may be independent. If the answer to either question is YES, then Gonzales is not independent.

Posted by: Observer | August 30, 2006 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Gonzales is usually a reliable firm... but a 36 percent approval rating for the sitting president is by no means "good news" for the state GOP. Wapo, care to share what the Steele poll numbers were?

I'm surprised and disappointed the Post didn't compare this poll against other polls that show another story: like the new WSJ/Zogby poll that has O'Malley beating Ehrlich 52-42.

Posted by: John | August 30, 2006 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Excellent question, John.

I don't know if the Post allows us to submit HTML. Here is the page that contains the poll summary:

Posted by: Yockel | August 30, 2006 2:44 PM | Report abuse

A contempoary Rasmussen poll shows O'Malley ahead by 50-43. For some reason, you're not reporting that one.

Posted by: Patrick | August 30, 2006 2:46 PM | Report abuse

The poll I posted is from April. My apologies. The Gonsalez website posted it under a link titled "Latest Poll."

May be, we can find the real latest poll some time later.

Posted by: Yockel | August 30, 2006 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Ha Ha, the spinning begins. Managed perception is the name of the game. What percentage of the populace wants paper ballots versus auditless cyber votes?? Why don't we just publish a poll instead.

Posted by: DIEbold | August 30, 2006 3:31 PM | Report abuse

We don't post Zogby polls, since they're done with computer calls. But the results of the latest one were similar to our own polling in June on both the Senate and governor's race.

The governor's race numbers in the latest Gonzales poll are tighter than the 11-point spread we found among registered voters in June or the 8-point spread the Sun found in July, but not much different from Gonzales's 5-point spread in April

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | August 30, 2006 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm spending a lot of time on the road around the State, and it doesn't feel as if the race is tightening in favor of Ehrlich. On the contrary, what I hear and see if a lot of energy of the Dem side at every level. Turnout will be huge, and there's excitement in the Governor's race, AG, Comptroller, US Senate, some House and State Senate races, County Executive--all of those. Republicans are not going to do well at all in the general election. There's more energy for O'Malley than the Governor; there's more energy for Cardin OR Mfume, than there is for Steele.

Posted by: Can't trust September Polls | August 30, 2006 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Gonzales has political candidates as clients but doesn't list who they are. Zogby has an excellent track record, and the WSJ is far from a left wing source. And I don't see how you can square these results with theirs.

Posted by: Andrew | August 30, 2006 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Does O'Malley need the assistance of his wife in the campaign in order to win?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 30, 2006 5:20 PM | Report abuse


This is not a gotcha, I'm just curious. I did a search on the WashPost website for cites to Rasmussen polls and there were plenty. Doesn't Rasmussen use the same computer calling for their polling? Why cite Rasmussen and not Zogby?

Posted by: curious | August 30, 2006 5:29 PM | Report abuse

as with most things, you get what you pay for. All of these outfits - Zogby, Rasmussen and Gonzales who do "free" polls and release them as a way to try to build credibility for themselves and attract paying clients do these polls on the cheap. As noted, they often use unreliable methods such as computer dialing or on-line surveys or otherwise do things that make the data less reliable (failure to calibrate for actual turnout history or anticipated turnout, regional variations, etc...) and while not the case here, it often is, they have a small sample size and large margin of error. while we generally think that these polls are independent because they aren't paid for by a candidate but in fact the candidate polls are probably much more accurate because they pay a lot of money for them and use them to make million dollar decisions on ad buys, etc....

Just worth noting.

Posted by: polls | August 30, 2006 5:43 PM | Report abuse


Folks, let's not forget that this is election season. True to their nature, Republicans have begun to do their best (and yes they are better than democrats) to manipulate public opinion by any and all means. Armies of the Republican consultants are deploying strategies and tactics to win the election, which democrats have yet to dreamed off. It is not surprising that the Annapolis based pollster Gonzales is doing the Republican's bidding.

An overview of the Gonzales polling methodology indicates that the polling firm faulted in framing the questions and analyzing them appropriately. Any experienced statistician will tell you immediately that Gonzales methodology is bogus. In my view, the release of such a poll is nothing but a "K" street ploy.

When it comes to Republican dirty tricks, does anyone know if Ehrlich is using democrats to funnel millions of state dollars to front organizations which are operating under the guise of cultural organizations, non-profits and business forums that are currently supporting the Governor? Chris Foster, a deputy secretary has served his master well in devising systems to defraud the state by using "grant money" manipulations. Georgeous Prince Georges' County serves as a conduit for funneling state funds to Ehrlich's favored organizations. Who knows where the $500,000 came from to a cultural organization to organize an economic summit and how $60,000 landed in the lap of a former Ehrlich appointee to open an office overseas?

Foreign government interests, including Middle Eastern entities are opening their coffers to help the Governor. Ehrlich--an Abramoff and Bush buddy-- must surely have out done Duncan who as per the Washington Post defrauded Montgomery County out of $23 million.

Ehrlich has gone one step further. During his overseas visit, he made "educational" deals with the Chinese gambling/prostitution interests (Macau). The flow of foreign money into his campaign under " PAC money" is going to be unraveled. Who cares if Ehrlich's gubernatorial campaign has used $470,000 from a federal fund account created by the state party? It's peanuts compared to the gold gilded skeletons in Ehrlich's closet.

Posted by: Merlin | August 30, 2006 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Welcome back Merlin

On the earlier questions of polls, I don't control what everyone else at the Post does. But in our Maryland political coverage and on the Maryland Moment, we don't use Rasmussen or Zogby.

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | August 30, 2006 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Merlin, nice screed. I guess Ehrlich is a shill for Haliburton and connected to Gitmo as well. Try and keep your comments on topic...if you can't, check out and make a day of it.

Posted by: Charlotte | August 30, 2006 8:35 PM | Report abuse

This reminds me of the Oct '04 Gallup Poll that showed Bush ahead of Kerry. The Left was shocked to the core then too. In fact, there was a New York Times full page ad that read "Galluping to the Right". Surely, if the poll doesn't agree with the Left's position then it must be skewed. Everyone's posting here is a reflection of that same denial.

When will Democrats wake up and realize the simple fact that many thinking people just don't buy into thier rhetoric?

Personally, I'm looking forward to the BIG boost in poll numbers when Ehrlich mops the floor with O'Malley's head in the coming debates just like he did with KKT in '04. It was love at first sight for me then as it will be again for many more in '06.

Posted by: BG from PG | August 30, 2006 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Charlotte made me laugh. Thanks for that!

Posted by: Rufus | August 31, 2006 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Rufus and Charlotte: Like it or not, Merlin is the best.

Posted by: Sam of Rockville | August 31, 2006 10:41 AM | Report abuse

One must always compare polling performed by the same firm. By that standard, this race has moved almost not at all since April. Hardly a tightening.

It's only tighter if you compare Gonzales with Rasmussen or Gonzales with the outlier Zogby.

This race is going to be a 2 point race come November. Ehrlich is too personally popular and O'Malley is not likely to combust, so neither side is going to blow the other out.

Posted by: howie | August 31, 2006 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I am not interested in Gonzales poll debate but I do want to know that what is being done to expose those politicians who use public funds for their own political gains.

The Post should investigate the role of the foreign money in Governor Ehrlich's campaign. Can the PG bureau check whether $500,000 and $60,000 were indeed handed out to Ehrlich's buddies?

Posted by: J. Anderson | August 31, 2006 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The only poll that counts is on election day. With that said, I value polls to show trends and nothing more. In this case the trend is obviously leaning Ehrlich. He was down 16-20 points in the early spring, 10-15 in early summer, 10 in mid summer, and now 3-6 depending on which numbers you mean. O'Malley was campaigning from November through today and I suspect that's why his numbers were higher earlier on. Now that Ehrlich has began earnestly campaigning and blitzing O'Malley with advertisements it is suddenly a margin-of-error race. O'Malley is at full force right now, but I think Ehrlich's still gearing up.

Mark my words, any polling done after Sept 20th and Ehrlich will take the lead. Why do I say this? Because for 5 months people heard only positive attributes about O'Malley and as soon as Ehrlich shifts resources to DC media market then O'Malley can kiss his 4 points (well really .75 if you count margin of error) lead good bye.

Ehrlich is smart to highlight O'Malley's educational failures and public safety failures. If this race becomes a race about Ehrlich and O'Malley's respective records then O'Malley may as well put his resume up on monster now.

Posted by: Bryan | August 31, 2006 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, O'Malley was strong-armed not to run for Gov in 2002 by the Kennedys and now has missed his chance to run for President until at least 2016 because the Dems will take back the White House in 2008. He's probably out of natinal politics for a long while or possibly for good. But at least we get to have him around for 2 terms as Md Gov, maybe he can run for US Senate when his Gov term is up in 2014.

Posted by: tom | September 4, 2006 6:57 PM | Report abuse

True O'Malley was strong armed not to run for Governor and it is ashame. As he probalby wouldn't be apart of all the investigations that are going on now concerning city contracts and nepotism. I would hate for him to get elected and then have to step down due to impending indictments. Then again Ed Norris' book should be out soon!!!

Posted by: Doug | September 6, 2006 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Merlin you must be a real wizard to think that Gonzales polling is doing the work of Republican spin masters. The poll show Ehrlich trailing by 4%, if the poll showed Ehrlich even or a % ahead i'd agree with you. Trust me if O'Malley wins you'll get what you deserve. I should know I fell for the Bmore rhetoric. If you live in the city you'll know that O'Malley wants an O'Malley sign in your yard and everything behind it. Highest property tax in the tri-state area. and taxation without representation. My neighbor's house was broken into and the city police coded it a trespassing complaint????? and this is the norm if 2 people are murdered on a corner they code it as 1 homicide hence the discrepency in body counts between the city police and the medical examiner's office. I can go on and on and on as I have at our community meetings, Where O'Malley has refused to attend and he lives in the same neighborhood as we do. People have now been so desperate that they have called upon the Guardian Angels for help.

Posted by: Doug | September 6, 2006 9:27 PM | Report abuse

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