First Click, Maryland:
O'Malley's Obama Factor?
Friday, Oct. 8, 2010:
Dozens of audience members interviewed by Post reporters Thursday at President Obama's rally for Gov. Martin O'Malley said the event -- and specifically Obama's kind words for O'Malley -- would spur them to vote Nov. 2 to reelect the governor.
But will it be enough to get their friends and families to turn out? And beyond the 7,000 in attendance, could it persuade the millions of Marylanders who were not there to go to the polls?
Even before Obama spoke, a battle had begun Thursday to shape how the president's rally will be remembered and whether an Obama Factor will count when the votes are tallied in the Maryland governor's race 25 days from now.
Former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s (R) campaign released a video Thursday morning of an Eastern Shore Democrat talking about how she had voted for O'Malley in 2006 and Obama in 2008 but would now be voting for Ehrlich.
As Obama spoke, Ehrlich held court with more than 100 women at a luncheon in Potomac and played down the significance of Obama's visit.
"The country is in a fiscally conservative mood, and Maryland is, too," Ehrlich said. "People are very concerned about their mortgages and smart kids who can't get a job."
As reporters sat waiting for Obama's arrival at Bowie State University, the Republican National Committee also e-mailed the assembled press corps a party research brief entitled "No Truth Zone -- With The Economy Struggling, President Obama Has Taken To Ignoring The Problem While Martin O'Malley Has Covered It Up."
Jennifer Duffy, senior analyst with the Cook Political Report says that for every day in advance of an election that a president makes a campaign appearance, the impact of that visit is diminished by a point or two in its potential turnout.
The O'Malley camp, however, has no intention of letting the Obama rally pass as a one-day event nearly a month before the election. The president's praise for "Martin," as he referred to him repeatedly during the rally, on schools, crime and other topics will be repurposed and repackaged in mailers, TV commercials, robocalls and just about every other form of media in coming days and weeks.
There also is still the possibility that Michelle Obama could make a campaign appearance -- or more likely, record a message in support of O'Malley -- before November.
Of course, in coming days and weeks we could also debate the merits of a Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.) factor for Ehrlich or a Bill Clinton factor for O'Malley. Regardless, when VIP politicians stop talking, don't expect it to be the last time you hear about their visit -- or what it means for Nov. 2.
News You Should Know
'Friends' may not equal votes
"Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has lots of "friends" -- 58,610 of them, to be exact," write The Post's Shailagh Murray and John Wagner. "That's the number of people who support the former Maryland governor on Facebook, and as he campaigns across the state trying to get his old job back, he mentions his online pals whenever he can. Ehrlich's Democratic opponent, Gov. Martin O'Malley, can claim a mere 24,516 Facebook supporters. "That proves I'm friendlier," Ehrlich told the crowd at a corn roast Saturday in Baltimore County, and "more popular." No doubt, if the election were held on Facebook, Ehrlich would be the runaway winner. But in Maryland, where the election actually will be held, a Washington Post poll has him trailing O'Malley by 11 points. Ehrlich is one of many politicians this year who have discovered the limits of online friendship.
Governor's race could determine form of Purple Line
"Maryland voters' choice of governor could determine whether passengers on a future Purple Line will ride trains or buses, a decision that comes at a critical time for a project about to begin competing for federal money," writes The Post's Katherine Shaver. "Transportation issues have taken a back seat to the economic downturn in the race between Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and challenger Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). But the two candidates' different approaches to a Purple Line -- O'Malley wants light rail, Ehrlich favors bus rapid transit -- provide a sharp contrast on a proposal that political leaders in voter-rich Montgomery and Prince George's counties have called their top transportation priority. In the past two governor's races, candidates worked to woo Montgomery voters with the $2.56 billion Intercounty Connector, which Ehrlich pushed to construction while governor from 2003 to 2007 and O'Malley pledged to continue. But with the economy still in a slump and state coffers depleted, neither candidate has been trumpeting new multi-billion-dollar projects."
New survey has Kratovil down 3 points
As Rep. Frank M. Kratovil Jr. skipped President Obama's rally in Maryland on Thursday, The Post's Ben Pershing reports Kratovil is down in a new poll: "The latest independent survey in Maryland's 1st Congressional District shows a tight contest, with freshman Rep. Frank Kratovil (D) trailing state Sen. Andrew Harris (R) by 3 points. The poll -- taken by Penn Schoen & Berland as part of a series of surveys commissioned by The Hill and the American National Gas Association -- found Harris leading Kratovil among likely voters, 43 percent to 40 percent, with 15 percent still undecided. The survey, which was conducted Sept. 28-30, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent."
Post editorial: Ehrlich making too much of jobs report pulled from state Web site
"As in campaigns elsewhere, the questions of joblessness and job creation have figured prominently in Maryland's gubernatorial race. Mr. O'Malley (D) has rightly pointed out that Maryland's jobless rate is significantly below the national average. But he was on thin ice by citing, and seeming to take credit for, the five consecutive months of job creation the state enjoyed this year. As economists have pointed out, the national economic recovery has been fragile and uncertain; woe to the candidate who links his fortunes to an indicator as volatile as the unemployment rate. Still, Mr. Ehrlich has made too much of the slight uptick in Maryland's joblessness rate in August (to 7.3 percent from 7.1 percent in July) and the brief analysis purged from the state's Web site. (Posted briefly Aug. 20, it said Maryland's recovery had "stalled.") Despite hard times, Maryland has the 13th-lowest percentage of people out of work in the nation; many states with lower rates are sparsely populated places such as the Dakotas and Wyoming. And while joblessness everywhere was much lower in 2006, at the conclusion of Mr. Ehrlich's four-year term as governor, Maryland was actually lower in the national unemployment rankings -- in 16th place -- than it is now."
"We're not going to stand for the tea party here in Maryland. ... When we're through with them, they're going to be in the Chesapeake Bay, floating out to sea."
-- Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. warming up the crowd at the Obama rally at Bowie State on Thursday.
"They can take back New Jersey, and they can take back Virginia, but they can't take back Maryland, because Maryland moves forward."
-- Gov. Martin O'Malley at Thursday's rally, referring to Republican wins last year by Govs. Chis Christie and Robert F. McDonnell.
"I love you back. ... But I want to talk about this election now."
-- President Obama responding to screams of "We love you, Obama" that interrupted him twice during the rally.
Aaron C. Davis
| October 8, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis, First Click
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