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Dueling Polls

Governor

OK, so The Washington Post poll comes out Sunday showing the governor's race at a 10-point margin for Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley in his race against Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. And The Baltimore Sun poll today puts it at only a 1-point advantage for O'Malley, well within the margin of error.

What gives?

The timing is a little different (The Post was in the field last Sunday through Thursday and the Sun on Saturday through Monday). And there are doubtless many differences in the methodology each pollster used.

But the most dramatic departure is in the percentage of likely voters who are African American. Because this voting bloc overwhelmingly favors Democrats and, in this race, O'Malley, a small change can mean a big difference in the numbers.

The Sun said its poll is based on a model predicting black turnout will be about 19 percent. The Post did not use a model to predict turnout, but set up questions to screen who is likely to vote Nov. 7. About 25 percent of the 1,003 respondents in the Post poll who screened as likely voters were African American.

By comparison, African Americans comprised 24 percent of Maryland's turnout in the 2004 presidential election, 22 percent in the 2002 governor's election and 21 percent in the 1998 governor's race, according to exit polls.

Ehrlich's campaign this weekend said the Post's poll was "demographically skewed" because there were few undecided voters and released internal poll results similar to what the Sun found.

"We are on the offensive and are closing the gap," Ehrlich's campaign proclaimed in an e-mail to supporters this morning.

O'Malley campaign released its own poll, done on the same days as the Sun's, which shows a 6-percent margin for the mayor.

O'Malley played down the results of the poll this morning as he prepared to board a hulking green bus that will take him to all corners of the state in coming days.

Standing outside his home in Baltimore, O'Malley noted two other recent polls, one the Post's and another for The Wall Street Journal with a 6-point margin.

"We suspect it's probably somewhere around the average of those three," O'Malley said.

By Phyllis Jordan  |  November 1, 2006; 9:24 AM ET
Categories:  Governor  
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Comments

I did find it weird that there were no undecided voters at all in the Post poll. Why didn't that raise any alarm bells about accuracy within the Post? Also, what would be the reason to increase black turnout in the Post poll above even presidential year turnout percentages? Just trying to understand the differences here.

Thanks

Posted by: interested | November 1, 2006 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Again, we didn't increase black turnout. We set up a screen to determine who was a likely voter, and 25 percent of the voters captured in that screen were black.

Whether turnout will be that high, who knows. But since the 24- and 22-percent figures from past elections were based on exit polls, which have margins of errors, there's little statistical difference.

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | November 1, 2006 11:34 AM | Report abuse

great - thanks Phyllis.

what about the undecideds though? And voters for Boyd - the Green Party candidate? Did you only count voters who expressed a preference for a candidate, so it was a poll of decided voters, which would still be illuminating since often undecideds break roughly the same as already decided voters or just don't show up, but just wondering. And was Boyd included in the head to head question?

Thanks again...

Posted by: interested | November 1, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse

On the undecideds, it's a matter of how you ask the question.

We didn't ask 'How will you vote election day?' We asked 'If the election were today, how would you vote?.' That gets you a more complete answer.

Then we followed up with: Is it likely you will change your vote? About 15 percent of each candidates' said there's a possibility.

Most of those said they were unlikely to change, but a third of them said there was a good chance they might. That means that five percent of likely voters said there was a good chance that they'd consider changing their mind on the gubernatorial contest


Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | November 1, 2006 12:33 PM | Report abuse

The question I have is how is O'Malley and Ehrlich so close, when all the polls show O'Malley doing better in every jurisdiction and every demographic than Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Ehrlich isn't doing any better in any of those areas than he did last year?

Posted by: RCD | November 1, 2006 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Phyllis,

I did not see any tabs on how may Dem's are voting for Ehrlich, or Rep's for O'Malley? Do you have a breakdown on that?

Posted by: Alex Zeese | November 1, 2006 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Alex,

Democrats are 85-11 for O'Malley
Republicans are 92-6 for Ehrlich
Independents/other are 54-41 for Ehrlich

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | November 1, 2006 5:43 PM | Report abuse

From the Capital (for those of you that don't know, that's the Annapolis area newspaper):


There is much to like in both of the candidates who want to be Maryland's governor for the next four years. Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr. and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley are affable and charismatic, and they understand the issues. They have dedicated their lives to serving the public and have enough ability to navigate whatever choppy waters lie ahead.

But the choice between them can't be based on who is more likable. The biggest question is: Who can best balance a legislature controlled by Democrats? The candidate best able to do that is Mr. Ehrlich, who gets our endorsement.

We judge Mr. Ehrlich as much for what he didn't support as what he did. He fought the Wal-Mart bill, a precedent for arbitrarily requiring large businesses to pay more for employee insurance. He fought the legislative effort to purge the Public Service Commission. He fought a bill enacting early voting. Although he lost all three battles with the legislature, he was vindicated when the courts struck down the laws.

Would there have been any resistance to these laws with a Democratic governor moving in lock step with the General Assembly? We don't think so.

Mr. Ehrlich did find some common ground with the Democrats, most notably on the Bay Restoration Act - the so-called "flush tax" to pay for the upgrading of outdated sewage treatment plants that are harming the Chesapeake Bay. And although he initially fought the Healthy Air Act and funding of stem-cell research, he eventually came over to the General Assembly's side.

Mr. Ehrlich also erased a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall inherited from his predecessor by cutting government positions and making some difficult choices, such as raising property tax rates and car registration fees - tough choices for a Republican governor.

Unemployment in Maryland is below the national average and budget surpluses are healthy. All things considered, the state is in good fiscal shape and doesn't need sales or income tax increases.

Even so, Mr. Ehrlich's first term has been marked more by confrontation than by the consensus-building voters anticipated. It's disappointing that someone so gifted could squander an opportunity to form partnerships, even with adversaries.

We have great respect for Mr. O'Malley, who has accomplished much as mayor of the state's largest city. We don't accept charges that he has failed to improve schools and reduce crime, two areas in which he set himself lofty goals.

Mr. O'Malley would be better than Mr. Ehrlich as a consensus-builder. He would work more closely with the legislature. But that likely partnership gives us pause, especially considering the probable election of Doug Gansler as attorney general and Peter Franchot as comptroller. We have endorsed these Democratic candidates as the best in their races, but their similar adherence to a liberal agenda needs to be offset, for the good of the state.

Mr. Ehrlich is the candidate in the best position to keep the legislature in check and move ahead with a more conservative agenda.


Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 7:17 PM | Report abuse

So the Sun estimated 19 percent AA turnout and the Post estimated 25 percent AA turnout. Seems to me that the Sun's estimate is far closer to the truth,
AA's comprised 22 percent in the 2002 governor's election, which was also the year of the last Presidential election. AA turnout likely to be lower than 22 percent this time (and possibly lower than 19 percent) given that (1) this isn't a Presidential election year; (2) Ehrlich's beat up O'Malley very badly on crime, education so AA vote in Balt City and PG County will almost certainly be lower than in 2002, (3) all sorts of problems with voting machines are likely to reduce AA turnout which was far below historically average levels in the primaries in Sept, and (4) all of the AA candidates at the head of the ticket (i.e. Mfume, Sims) lost in their respective primary bids so AA turnout lower for that reason also. All in all, it looks pretty bleak for O'Malley if he's betting his hopes on AA turnout. Don't look now O'Malley but you're about to get run over by the Ehrlich Express Train. See ya.

Posted by: A1Ron | November 1, 2006 8:44 PM | Report abuse

A1Ron,

2002 was NOT a presidential year! Governors in Maryland are NEVER up for election in the same year as the President. Based on the rest of your post, I'm guessing you actually know that but will do anything to exaggerate your point.

AA voters comprised 22% of the electorate in 2002 and 21% of it in 1998. There is no reason to believe it will fall all the way to 19% any more than it will rise to 25%.

This morning, this is probably a 3-4 point race with Ehrlich closing fast. It will wind up being 1-2 points either way.

Posted by: howie | November 2, 2006 7:57 AM | Report abuse

The Sun Poll has Ehrlich-O'Malley as a 1 point race.

Rasmussen today has Ehrlich-O'Malley as a 1 point race.

Ehrlich's internal polls have Ehrlich-O'Malley as a 1 point race.

The Washington Post has Ehrlich-O'Malley as a 10 point race.

Posted by: which doesn't fit? | November 2, 2006 9:32 AM | Report abuse

This sort of variance in the polls cannot be permitted! If the Democrats can't point to consistent margins of victories in the polls, it will undermine their ability to point to them as proof of Republican election fixing when the Dems lose next Tuesday! Oh, no!!!

Posted by: Rufus | November 2, 2006 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Rufus: Another post we'd expect from a "Democrat." That was a good one.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | November 2, 2006 7:17 PM | Report abuse

If O'Malley ends up losing to Ehrlich, which is beginning to look more and more likely, I hope that the good people of Baltimore will hang him out to dry and kick him out of Baltimore City Hall just like he hung them out to try by abandoning them is egomaniacal but failed bid for the Governor's mansion. Also, if it's true that O'Malley submitted a fraudulent bar application, he should be disbarred by the Maryland Bar. O'Malley, what goes around, comes around. Riddle me that.

Posted by: A1Ron | November 3, 2006 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Loudoun Voter, that because the Maryland Democrat Party is a disgrace and I love calling them on their dishonesty.

Posted by: Rufus | November 3, 2006 2:52 PM | Report abuse

O'Malley's wife should leave him or get a divorce after he loses. And you're right A1Ron, he should be disbarred if he submitted fraudulent applications to both the MD Bar and for his city prosecutor job. O'Malley, at 8:01 pm this coming Tuesday Nov. 7, 2006 after the reports are in that you've lost, it's gonna be GREAT.

Posted by: you're on A1Ron | November 3, 2006 6:22 PM | Report abuse

A1: While there's no recall provision under Baltimore's election laws, there is no doubt that O'Malley will not be re-elected to a third term as Balt mayor, if he loses to Ehrlich, which looks to be a real possibility now. He may try to run for Mikulski's seat when she retires.

Posted by: todd | November 4, 2006 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Ha ha. O'Malley won in a walk, by 100,000 votes. You all suck.

Posted by: Eat it | November 20, 2006 10:16 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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