Brown tops two Democratic rivals in early poll in Maryland’s 2014 race for governor


Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
October 17, 2013

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) enjoys an early lead in Maryland’s 2014 Democratic primary for governor, but large segments of voters don’t recognize the candidates’ names at this point, according to a new poll by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies.

If the June primary were held today, 41 percent of likely voters say they would vote for Brown, while 21 percent would support Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) and 5 percent would cast their ballots for Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery). Thirty-three percent remain undecided.

Brown’s lead over Gansler can be explained by Brown’s much stronger support among African-Americans. In the poll, Brown, who would be Maryland’s first African-American governor, has the support of 56 percent of black voters, compared to 12 percent for Gansler.

Among white voters, Brown and Gansler are in a virtual dead heat, with Brown receiving 29 percent and Gansler getting 28 percent.

Brown leads in both the Washington suburbs and in the Baltimore region, as well as in the rest of the state, according to the poll.

The poll also shows that Brown is better known than his two Democratic rivals. Seventy-nine percent of likely Maryland voters say they don’t recognize Mizeur’s name. Thirty-seven percent don’t recognize Gansler’s name, while 18 percent say the same thing about Brown.

The poll was conducted over a two-week period, which ended just as Gansler was unveiling his running mate, Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s), and dealing with the fallout of a Washington Post story in which state troopers alleged Gansler ordered them to speed, run red lights and otherwise drive in a questionable manner.

The poll also shows a dip in Gov. Martin O’Malley’s job approval since the beginning of the year.

In the new poll, 48 percent say they approve of the job O’Malley (D) is doing — while an identical number say they disapprove.

In a Gonzales poll conducted in January, 54 percent approved of O’Malley’s job performance, while 41 percent disapproved.

Gonzales noted that O’Malley had “spent some political capital” during the last legislative session, pushing several bold agenda items.

One of those — a sweeping gun-control measure — remains relatively popular, with 58 percent saying they approve and 40 percent saying they disapprove.

Another O’Malley initiative — the repeal of the death penalty — drew mixed marks, with 49 percent approving and 44 percent disapproving.

A third measure — raising the gas tax to pay for more transportation projects — is overwhelmingly unpopular, the poll found.

Only 21 percent of likely voters approved, while 76 percent disapprove.

The poll of 819 registered voters who said they are likely to vote in 2014 was conducted Oct. 1 through Oct. 14. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. That number rises to plus or minus 5 percentage points on questions where only Democrats were surveyed.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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