First Click, Maryland:
Another poll shows momentum for O'Malley
Tuesday, October 19, 2010:
A third poll in a month shows Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) with a growing lead - albeit a smaller lead than in two other recent polls.
If the election were held today, 47 percent of Maryland voters would vote for O'Malley while 42 percent would vote for former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., according to the poll released Tuesday by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies. The poll found 4 percent of voters would choose a third party candidate, while 6 percent remain undecided.
Ehrlich supporters may be inclined to focus on the 5 percentage point gap as smaller than the 8-point one in the last Rasmussen poll or the 11-point lead for O'Malley in a Washington Post poll late last month
But the trend line is bound to be more comforting to stat watchers on the O'Malley side. In July, Gonzales found O'Malley was the choice of 45 percent of likely voters, while 42 percent preferred Ehrlich, and 8 percent were undecided.
Essentially, a quarter of those Gonzales counted as undecided in July now say they will back O'Malley for a second term. Meanwhile, the percentage saying they will back Ehrlich has remained roughly unchanged.
In an analysis that accompanies the poll, Gonzales attributes the shifting numbers in part to a successful ad campaign by the incumbent: "The O'Malley campaign's media barrage against Ehrlich is having its intended effect ... two weeks before the election, Ehrlich has become the incumbent," the group said, suggesting O'Malley's portrayal of Ehrlich's record during his previous term in office is working against the Republican.
In July, Gonzales concluded the Maryland governor's race was "really close" and "either candidate could win in November." The tone of the group's conclusions this time are more one sided:
"O'Malley's negatives among Republicans and independents are up since July, but this election has always been about securing the base, and his campaign appears to be doing that heading into the November 2nd election."
Similar to July, the poll reinforces geographical divides: O'Malley holds commanding leads in the Washington suburbs (65 percent to Ehrlich's 25 percent) and in Baltimore (70 percent versus 16 percent).
Ehrlich is stronger in the Baltimore suburbs (49 percent to O'Malley's 41 percent), and in Western Maryland, the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland.
But a single digit lead around Baltimore County won't alone win the race, Gonzales says: "This election for Ehrlich was always going to be won or lost in the Baltimore suburbs. An 8 point advantage is not enough to offset O'Malley's tally in the Washington suburbs."
The poll also looks at approval ratings. It pegs O'Malley's far lower than the record high found last month by The Post poll.
Statewide, 48 percent of Maryland voters say they approve of the job O'Malley is doing, while 44 percent disapprove, and 8 percent have no opinion, Gonzales writes.
But Ehrlich's approval rating also was lower. Some 40 percent have a favorable opinion of the Republican (down 6 points since July); 34 percent have an unfavorable opinion (up 9 points), and 25 percent have a neutral opinion."
Gonzales also looks into the crystal ball and discerns a detailed voter turnout model in part off of last month's primary results:
"In the 2010 primaries last month, turnout in the Democratic primary was down 27 percent from 2006, while turnout in the Republican primary was up 23 percent from 2006."
Based on that information, Gonzales predicts Democratic turnout will drop 7 percent in 2010, going from 59.3 percent to 55 percent. Republican turnout will increase 11 percent in 2010, going from 62.75 percent to 70 percent, Gonzales predicts.
In the state's Senate race, Gonzales also finds that 55 percent of voters say they favor Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, to 38 percent for Republican Eric Wargotz. Gonzales says 7 percent in that race remain undecided.
The poll was conducted Oct. 11 through October 16. A total of 816 registered voters in Maryland who are likely to vote in the 2010 general election were interviewed by telephone. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
News You Should Know
Republicans address report that national money may be fading in Md. gov's race
Former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) and some key allies pushed back Monday against a report by Washington's ABC7 News that the Republican Governors Association might be pulling money out of his race against Gov. Martin O'Malley (D). During a campaign appearance in Capitol Heights, Ehrlich noted that by law he is unable to talk about independent expenditures benefiting his candidacy but added that he had heard the RGA was boosting spending on his race. Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), a member of the RGA's executive committee, reached out to us, calling rumors of a pullout "not accurate." The TV report appears to have been sparked by the cancellation of some TV ads in the Washington market. "Decisions that are made about TV buys are changed on a weekly, a regular, basis," McDonnell said. "We've got TV running in the near future, and we continue to be optimistic about Governor Ehrlich's ability to win the race." Chris Schrimpf, director of political communications for the RGA, said the group had no plans to disclose its strategy through the media. The Baltimore Sun's Annie Linskey reported that the RGA "had purchased $150,000 in ads for this week on WRC, the NBC affiliate in Washington. But on Monday it cut that in half, according to the station. Last week, the RGA poured $200,000 into the station."
-- Washington Post staff
O'Malley features Mikulski in latest ad
"Women voters are getting a lot of attention in these final days of Maryland's gubernatorial race. Gov. Martin O'Malley's campaign just released a new television advertisement featuring Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a fellow Democrat," writes The Sun's Julie Bykowicz. " It is in effect an answer to a women-themed ad Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. began airing over the weekend. In the new O'Malley ad, the senator -- who repeatedly shows up as the state's most popular politician in polls -- talks directly to the camera, recounting how long she has known O'Malley (25 years) and what she believes he cares about most (families)."
Ehrlich continues push in Prince George's
"Former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. [R] camped out in Prince George's County again on Monday, arguing that he had been more attentive to the solidly Democratic county as governor than the Democrat who now sits in the executive mansion," writes The Post's Freddy Kunkle. "Working familiar campaign themes, Ehrlich also accused Gov. Martin O'Malley of being unfriendly to businesses big and small. For example, Ehrlich blamed O'Malley for blowing the chance to open a new reactor at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant and missing the opportunity to create at least 4,000 jobs. The power plant became a campaign issue last week when Constellation Energy shelved its proposal for the new reactor and blamed the Obama administration for creating insurmountable financial hurdles. But the utility's chairman also told employees that O'Malley and his administration had worked hard to make the proposal succeed. Ehrlich also ticked off a number of points that might interest local voters, including a promise to open the doors again at Rosecroft Raceway, the shuttered harness track in Fort Washington. That too cost the region jobs, he said. And Ehrlich dinged O'Malley for supposedly paying scant attention to Prince George's until right before the election. The folks who gathered at the IHOP in Capitol Heights seemed receptive to his message, even several of the self-described, lifelong Democrats among them. But the group also represented all of about 20 people, so Ehrlich needs to convince a lot more of the county's 401,125 registered Democrats--more than any other jurisdiction--to cross the aisle or stay home if he wants to pull off an upset.
Aaron C. Davis
| October 19, 2010; 12:01 AM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis, First Click
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