First Click, Maryland
Mikulski maintains wide lead in U.S. Senate race
Wednesday, October 27, 2010:
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) remains ahead of her Republican challenger by a wide margin, according to a new Washington Post poll, as she enjoys reelection support from a broad cross-section of Marylanders.
Mikulski leads Queen Anne's County Commissioner Eric Wargotz (R) among likely voters, 64 percent to 27 percent, the poll found. That margin is slightly larger than the one Mikulski had in the last Washington Post poll, conducted in late September, which showed the incumbent leading 61 percent to 29 percent.
Mikulski remains solidly ahead in every section of the state, with especially wide leads in Baltimore City -- her home base -- and Prince George's county. She leads among both women and men, and has the backing of 92 percent of black voters as well as 57 percent of white voters. Mikulski has 60-percent support or better among voters of every age range.
Ideologically, the generally liberal Mikulski is pulling some crossover support. She has the backing of 32 percent of self-described conservatives, and 25 percent of voters who said they were casting their ballots for Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) in the more competitive governor's race.
Mikulski also saw her favorability ratings inch up; 61 percent of likely voters have a favorable opinion of her, a 4-point improvement over the September survey. Wargotz remains mostly unknown -- eight in 10 likely voters did not know enough about him to have an opinion.
Wargotz has suffered from relatively little media exposure. There has been no formal debate between the two candidates; the closest thing to one occurred Monday, when they sat for a joint interview on Maryland Public Television:
The Post poll results are more positive for Mikulski than those of a Baltimore Sun survey released Monday, which showed Mikulski leading among likely voters 59 percent to 32 percent.
Hoping to boost his bid in the last week before the election, Wargotz is out with a new television ad that claims Mikulski has "stopped working for us and started working against us" by hurting the state's economy.
Mikulski had raised $5.3 million this cycle and spent just under $4 million as of Oct. 13, a healthy dose of it on television advertising. Wargotz, who has loaned his campaign at least $850,000 so far, had spent $600,000 as of Sept. 30.
The Washington Post poll, conducted Oct. 19 to 22, included 1,434 likely voters and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
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Democrats voting early more often than Republicans
"Democrats are taking advantage of early voting in greater proportion than Republicans, the state elections board reports, suggesting that the party in power is turning out its base more effectively," reports The Baltimore Sun's Annie Linskey. "In the first three days of early voting, registered Democrats, who make up 56 percent of the Maryland electorate, cast 63 percent of the ballots, according to elections board. Republicans, who make up 26 percent of the electorate, cast 27 percent of the ballots. Some good news for the GOP: Republican voters are outpacing Democrats in the 1st Congressional District, where state Sen. Andy Harris is trying to unseat Rep. Frank Kratovil in the Maryland's most competitive House race this year."
Ehrlich turns attention to illegal immigration
"Former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. sought Tuesday to highlight differences with Gov. Martin O'Malley on illegal immigration, saying the issue had 'become more of a hot button' since their recent debate at The Washington Post," writes The Post's John Wagner. "Flanked by lawyers and legal immigrants at a law firm in Owings Mills, Ehrlich (R) spoke of the importance of ethnic heritage but criticized -- without citing many specifics -- stands taken by O'Malley (D) and Democrats in the legislature related to drivers' licenses, university tuition and state funding of immigrants rights groups. Such issues have not been a prominent part of the gubernatorial rematch. But Ehrlich said he has been flooded with requests to speak more on the subject since the Post debate."
Curry leading Baker transition in Prince George's
"Presumptive Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III has tapped Wayne K. Curry, the county's first African American executive, to lead his transition team as he prepares to take office in early December," writes The Post's Miranda Spivack. "Baker (D) on Tuesday also named Kenneth W. Johnson, a county resident and assistant general counsel for Sodexo, to be the team's executive director. Johnson will run day-to-day operations of the team, whose members are still being selected. Baker, who won the Democratic nomination last month to succeed Jack B. Johnson (D), has no Republican opponent Tuesday, but he has been working behind the scenes, awaiting Election Day before discussing his plans to take the reins of the $2.6 billion county government."
Energy deal clears way for Calvert Cliffs project
"Constellation Energy settled its dispute with French utility giant Electricite de France on Tuesday, selling its half of a joint venture to develop new nuclear power plants and dropping its threat to exercise an option to force EDF to buy a dozen aging fossil fuel plants," writes The Post's Steven Mufson. "The deal opens the way for EDF to press ahead with plans to build a third nuclear reactor at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant and to seek federal loan guarantees that could help reduce financing costs. ... The dispute between Constellation and EDF and the fate of the Calvert Cliffs project has been the center of attention in Maryland, where politicians have been doing whatever they can to promote the project, which could bring 4,000 jobs to the state."
| October 27, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
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