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O'Malley vs. Ehrlich: 2009 Looks a Lot Like 2006


When it comes to gubernatorial politics in Maryland, not a whole lot has changed in the last three years.

That, at least, is the conclusion of a new poll that shows Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) beating former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), 49 percent to 38 percent, in a hypothetical 2010 matchup.

"Ehrlich appears to be about where he was three years ago when he left office: well-enough liked but unable to get much beyond his base," says the new poll from Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies of Annapolis.

In the 2006 election, when O'Malley was the challenger and Ehrlich was the incumbent, O'Malley prevailed by 6.5 percentage points.

The poll found that 42 percent of voters in the heavily Democratic state still view Ehrlich favorably, while 26 percent have an unfavorable view. Twenty-six percent said they have a neutral opinion.

O'Malley's favorability numbers are pretty similar. Forty-seven percent said they have a favorable view, while 28 percent see him unfavorably, and 23 percent are neutral.

O'Malley's job approval numbers are virtually unchanged from the last Gonzales poll in January: 48 percent say they approve of the job he's doing, while 27 percent disapprove, and 15 percent have no opinion.

The poll showed that Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele, Maryland's former lieutenant governor, would fare somewhat worse against O'Malley than Ehrlich. The poll has O'Malley winning, 52 percent to 37 percent.

The poll also underscored a major challenge facing three Democrats who have been rumored as possible primary opponents against O'Malley: Not many people know who they are.

Former Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, who challenged O'Malley in the 2006 primary, was viewed favorably by 21 percent and unfavorably by 7 percent of voters. But 72 percent either said they were neutral or did not recognize his name.

Former Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens was viewed favorably by 12 percent and unfavorably by 2 percent. But 86 percent either said they were neutral or did not recognize her name.

The results were similar for former Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry: 12 percent favorable, 1 percent unfavorable; 87 percent neutral or unsure who he is.

The poll also suggested that Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who is up for reelection next year, remains the state's most popular politician. Statewide, 64 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of her, compared with 23 percent with an unfavorable view. Twelve percent are neutral.

The Gonzales poll of 833 Maryland registered voters was conducted Sept. 8 to 17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

-- John Wagner

By Washington Post Editors  |  September 22, 2009; 12:01 AM ET
Categories:  Governor , John Wagner  | Tags: Barbara Mikulski, Douglas M. Duncan, Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies, Janet Owens, Martin O'Malley, Michael S. Steele, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Wayne K. Curry, polls  
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For heaven's sake, what will it take for the MD GOP to stop looking backwards and trying to recycle a proven loser (Erlich) to run for Governor. The GOP needs to start over, and since Erlich was bounced out of office, do they really want to look like this is the best they can come up with?

Jeez! At least run a Ron Paul delegate or something? Can we make this thing within 15% points? Its embarassing. Kinda like, why even have an election...just save the money and time, extend O'Malley's run (if he'll accept it).

Posted by: free-donny | September 22, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Get your facts straight free-donny; O'Malley only beat Elrich by 6 percentage points in 2006.

Posted by: reiflame1 | September 22, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Iam a liberal Dem, however, I want the GOP to find someone who can be a credible oplponent to OMalley. If we don't get some real choices in our elections, I guess my wingnut friends will be right when they call the state the Democratic Peoples Republic of Maryland. One party rule, whether Dem., Rep., whatever, is not what the Founding Fathers of this country had in mind.

Posted by: VikingRider | September 22, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

I agree with some of your points Viking... and I think few people actually want a one-party system. The MD GOP has turned itself into such a basket-case, I think a one-party system is what we're condemned to.

There is no one else to blame but the MD GOP. When will they figure it out? Regurgitating failed candidates and philosphies is NOT the way forward for anyone. I just think they need to go back to the drawing board and renew their focus based on the Maryland of today, not the Maryland of Spiro Agnew's day.

We will all be winners if the MD GOP can reinvent themselves. I think even the MD Democratic party would become stronger as a result.

Posted by: free-donny | September 23, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

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