Members of Maryland's state Democratic ticket, led by gubernatorial candidate Harry R. Hughes, are far ahead of Republican opponents in the Nov. 7 election, according to a new poll taken for The Baltimore Sum.
Results of a statewide sampling of registered voters published in today's editions of The Sun show Hughes leading J. Glenn Beall in the race for the statehouse by a margin of almost 5 to 2.
Democratic candidates for attorney general and comptroller lead by even larger margins, according to the survey of 614 people chosen at random in a sample designed to reflect party strength and the number of registered voters across the state.
The results of the poll, conducted last Sunday and Monday, appear to carry additional weight in that they seem to match the private observations of many Maryland politicians. Key factors are the apparent strength of the Democratic vote and the relatively small porportion of undecided voters.
Hughes' upset victory in the primary was attributed in part to success in attracting undecided voters. Polls had indicated that the number of undecided voters was larger than the gap between the leading candidate and his top challengers. The current poll, however, shows Hughes leading by a margin larger than the entire undecided vote.
In a state with a 3-to-1 Democratic edge in registration, a Republican victory would require many votes from Democrats. However, Hughes primary campaign caused little dissension and created few enemies and the poll seems to show little sign of party defections.
In a telephone interview last night, Beall described himself as not discouraged and said he had faced similar situations before and won. He cited his 1970 victory in the Senate race against Democratic incumbent Joseph Tydings.
While many Democrats are reluctant to tell a telephone interviewer that they will not back their party's nominee, Beall asserted, many of them have been assuring him of their support.
"I've never been in an election in Maryland where so many people volunteer their support and there is so much public acceptance," he said.
Beall contended that as Maryland's first transportation secretary Hughes helped bring about increased government growth and spending and was involved in raising fees and taxes.
As Hughes' record becomes known, Beall said, there will be a "significant shift in voting patterns."
He also described The Sun's survey as the "same poll that showed Hughes couldn't win the primary."
Hughes could not be reached immediately last night.
Two days before the primary, The Sun published results of a poll that it said showed Acting Gov. Blair Lee III ahead of all three opponents by a substantial margin, with Hughes surging forward.
That poll gave Lee 34 percent of the vote, Hughes 20, Theodore G. Venetoulis 21 and Walter S. Orlinsky 3, with 22 percent undecided. Both the norning and evening Sun had endorsed Hughes in the primary.
The new poll shows Hughes with 56 percent, Beall with 23 and 21 percent undecided. It shows Hughes leading in all section of the state except Western Maryland and gives him 77 percent of the Democratic vote.
The poll, taken among those who said they would definitely or probably vote, showed Democratic Attorney General candidate Stephen H. Sachs leading Republican Warren Rich by 56 percent to 12 percent, and incumbent Democratic comptroller Louis Goldstein leading challenger Donald Devine by 63 percent to 12 percent.