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O'Malley lead over Ehrlich dwindles in new poll

John Wagner

The latest evidence that Maryland's two leading candidates are locked in a tight race for governor: A new poll has Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) up by just 3 percentage points over former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).

O'Malley is the choice of 45 percent of likely voters, while 42 percent prefer Ehrlich and 8 percent are undecided, according to the poll by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies.

The good news for O'Malley is that he is still faring better than many Democratic incumbents in what is shaping up as a tough election year for the party nationally. The bad news: Even in heavily Democratic Maryland, voters have lurched in Ehrlich's direction since January, when Gonzales last polled. O'Malley held a 9 percentage point lead over Ehrlich in that survey.

In an analysis accompanying the new poll, Gonzales declares the race "really close" and concludes: "It's clear that either candidate could win in November." Other recent polls --- including one by The Post in May -- have also shown a competitive race.

Gonzales identifies keys for both candidates. Ehrlich must improve his performance among Democrats to win, while O'Malley could lose if the economy continues to be such a dominant factor the race.

The poll highlights several divides in Maryland politics. O'Malley holds commanding leads in the Washington suburbs and in Baltimore; Ehrlich is stronger in the Baltimore suburbs, Western Maryland, the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland.

A gender gap also persists between O'Malley and Ehrlich. Among women, O'Malley leads, 49 percent to 37 percent. Among men, Ehrlich leads, 48 percent to 40 percent.

One other noteworthy finding: While the race has grown tighter, the percentage of those approving of the way O'Malley is handing is job has actually increased slightly, from 46 percent in January to 48 percent in July.

And now for the candidate spin.

This, from O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese: The Gonzales poll "confirms that Bob Ehrlich is stuck in the low 40s because people remember his record as the biggest spender in Maryland history and that Marylanders approve of the job Governor O'Malley is doing to move Maryland forward despite the national recession."

And this, from Ehrlich communications director Henry Fawell: "Like every survey published in the past fifty days, the poll shows Marylanders are embracing Bob Ehrlich's positive message of more jobs, lower taxes and less spending. It also shows that Governor O'Malley's negative campaigning has proven to be a major tactical mistake. We expect this race to remain very close."

Meanwhile, 59 percent of likely Maryland voters approve of the job Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) is doing, Gonzales found. That's down 5 percentage points since January and shows that "even the popular Mikulski is feeling the effects of the anti-incumbent mood of the electorate," Gonzales said.

Mikulski, who is widely expected to win a fifth term this fall, faces 17 other candidates, none of them well known.

President Obama's numbers have also taken a tumble in Maryland, according to the poll, which found 51 percent approving of his job performance. That's down five points from January as well.

The Gonzales poll of 807 likely voters was conducted July 13 to 21 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

By John Wagner  |  July 27, 2010; 12:01 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , John Wagner  
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Next: Ehrlich touts poll results in quick fundraising pitch

Comments

"O'Malley and his chief media booster, Washington Post reporter John Wagner, repeatedly refer to O'Malley's "eight-point lead" which is not only out of date but never was accurate in the first place."
http://www.gazette.net/stories/07162010/polilee185934_32540.php

John Wagner never wrote that Ehrlich lead when he was up by a few points within the statistical margin-of-error, but when O'Malley is up 3 within the margin he uses it as his headline. One question, is he still dating one of the current governor's staffers?

Posted by: chesapeaketerp | July 27, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

the polling sameple was just 807 registered voters "who are likely to vote". And it had a margin of error of five percent? Seems like a sloppy operation at Gozales, why should we care about this?

Posted by: VikingRider | July 27, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

"Meanwhile, 59 percent of likely Maryland voters approve of the job Sen. Barbara Mikulski." Would some PLEASE point to something substantive the senator has done in FOUR terms?! And I don't mean cosponsor!Remarkable....

Posted by: lovinliberty | July 27, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Martin has governed responsibly during a tough period. Bob Ehrlich governed pretty poorly during good economic times.

What was the question again?

Posted by: krickey7 | July 27, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Um lets see, a majority of Marylanders want Civil Unions and agree with Obama's health care. OMalley gots this!

Posted by: doesntmatter | July 27, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Senator Babs may be leading the polls; but will these people who are represented in this poll actually get out and vote on Election Day?

Posted by: CubsFan | July 27, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Well, John, are you going to answer the question??..Are you still dating an O'Malley staffer?

Posted by: Digitalman08 | July 27, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

O'Malley will get 100% of the gay male vote. Ehrlich will get sympathy votes from the crowd at the back of the bar for the "Kendel problem". While Marty and Colm play out everyone's Batman and Robin fantasies Bob will most likely end up "wide stancin" in some obscure airport restroom.

To the naysayers on Babs! Being the leverage point of the Senate's women and a national figure she has certainly managed to corral a lot of federal lucre for Maryland. Maybe focusing on the job rather then self aggradizement is a good thing.

Posted by: SoCali | July 27, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Erlich signed off on spying on American citizens during his tenure as governor. The government spied on anti-war groups that met in churches and other perfectly legal types of meetings. Please, we do not need Erlich again. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/annapolis/2008/10/three_members_of_a_maryland.html

Posted by: Marylander4 | July 27, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Go Bob Go!

Posted by: traderdad37 | July 27, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

O'Malley will not get 100% of the gay male vote.

lovinliberty, exactly! What has she done! The reason people support her is because she has done nothing awful. She should retire and let someone else take her place.

Are these really our best two candidates? If these are my options, I'm not voting for either, but I will be voting.

Posted by: sinesk1 | July 27, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I can't wait to see O'Malley's March...from the Governor's mansion.

Posted by: Digitalman08 | July 28, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Is the MD GOP still in debt or are they back to zero yet? Seriously - does Ehrlich have two dollars to rub together?

Posted by: free-donny | July 28, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

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