Graphic
The Washington Post Poll: President Bush and Iraq
Maryland Democrats are more likely to oppose the Iraq war and disapprove of President Bush than Democratic voters nationally.
The Washington Post Poll: President Bush and Iraq
Full poll results | GRAPHIC: The Washington Post - October 29, 2006
Correction to This Article
An Oct. 29 article misspelled the name of Hari Sevugan, communications director for the Maryland gubernatorial campaign of Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D).

Poll Puts Maryland Democrats In the Lead

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By Robert Barnes and Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, October 29, 2006

A strong Democratic tide in Maryland threatens to swamp Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s reelection bid and bolsters the party's efforts to retain control of an important U.S. Senate seat, according to a new Washington Post poll.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) held a 10 percentage point lead over Ehrlich, and Democratic Senate nominee Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin had a similar advantage over Republican Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele among likely voters in the Post poll, which was conducted last Sunday through Thursday. The leads were well beyond the survey's three percentage point margin of error.

The poll of 1,000 voters showed that the state's overwhelmingly Democratic electorate is highly disturbed about national issues -- extremely critical of President Bush, more upset about the war in Iraq than voters in the rest of the country and eager to shift power in Washington from the Republican Party.

Those strong feelings are a heavy weight for Ehrlich and Steele, who four years ago claimed the state's top offices for the GOP for the first time in nearly 40 years and have tried to foster a Republican resurgence in the state.

Steele, whose campaign to replace retiring Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D) has sought to play down his past Republican activism and project an independent image, doesn't do much better in the poll with Democratic voters than Republicans who have gone before him. His appeal to fellow African Americans has not swayed that group.

In the governor's race, those surveyed did not seem to view the contest as a referendum on Ehrlich, unlike most reelection campaigns. A majority of voters had a favorable opinion of the governor and said they believe he has done a good job. Nevertheless, one in five of those who approved of Ehrlich's performance as governor said they would vote for O'Malley.

Ehrlich's support among Democrats was half of what exit polls showed it to be four years ago, and voters who described themselves as political moderates returned to the Democratic fold, the poll showed.

The Republican candidates disputed the poll, saying it was too different from recent polls that they had seen that showed the races much closer.

"It is a dead heat, and Michael Steele is gaining ground every day," said Doug Heye, Steele's campaign spokesman.

Ehrlich's campaign was especially dismissive of the findings.

"It is simply unrealistic to think that a governor with approval ratings as high as this, who has provided record education funding and cut crime around the state is losing by 10 points to the mayor of the deadliest city in the country," said Bo Harmon, Ehrlich's campaign manager.

Harmon also called the poll's demographics "wildly skewed" since the results reflected few undecided voters. Nearly all the likely voters gave their opinion on how they would cast their ballots if the election were held the day they were interviewed. In a follow-up question, about 15 percent of each candidate's supporters said there was a chance they could change their minds by Election Day.


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