Rep. Chris Van Hollen is running for the senate seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. (Amanda Voisard/For the Washington Post)

Rep. Chris Van Hollen beat rival Senate candidate Rep. Donna Edwards in a straw poll held by the Young Democrats of Maryland at the group’s annual statewide convention.

Van Hollen, who represents Montgomery County, won 76 votes in the informal survey, compared with 34 for his rival, who comes from Prince George’s County. The two are competing in an April 26 Democratic primary to replace Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.

“Young voters in Maryland know how much is at stake in this election,” Van Hollen said in a statement.

Both candidates spoke at the event, held in Rockville.

Polling suggests that the race between the two lawmakers is a dead heat. A survey done by Goucher College this past week found Edwards leading Van Hollen 39 to 37 percent, within the margin of error.

"Donna's taken the lead in independent, public polls because she's focused on the real issues that matter to Maryland's hardworking families,” Edwards spokesman Benjamin Gerdes said in a statement.

Van Hollen has consistently outpaced Edwards in fundraising and endorsements.

Young Democrats of Maryland is the youth arm of the Maryland Democratic Party, representing Democrats under the age of 36.