Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial primary race is wide open, according to a poll by Goucher College released just days before the campaign filing deadline.
Nearly half of the Democrats who are likely to vote in the primary say they have no preference among the seven candidates in the race, and the majority say they don’t know enough about the candidates to form an opinion.
The poll, which was released on Thursday, asked Democrats whom they would select if the election were held today. Forty-seven percent said they were undecided or had no preference, a statistically insignificant change from September, when a Goucher poll found 44 percent had no preference.
“It suggests to me that there is a lot of time for some serious movement to happen” before the June 26 primary, said Mileah Kromer, director of Goucher’s Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center.
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III fares the best among the potential Democratic challengers, with 19 percent saying they support his campaign. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz receives 12 percent and former NAACP president Ben Jealous follows with 10 percent.
The poll found the rest of the field in the single digits. Tech entrepreneur Alec Ross has 3 percent support, while state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., attorney James Shea and former Michelle Obama aide Krishanti Vignarajah each received 2 percent.
Kromer speculated that many Democratic voters are focused on the White House and national politics and have not tuned into the gubernatorial race.
“While the candidates have had a lot of forums, nobody has advertised yet,” she said. “The campaigns haven’t really kicked into gear.”
But the poll also found that the Republican incumbent’s chance of reelection is not certain.
Forty-seven percent of Marylanders say they are “leaning toward or will definitely vote” to re-elect Hogan to a second term, while 43 percent say they are leaning toward or will definitely vote for a different candidate. Another 10 percent say they are unsure who they would vote for if the election were held today.
“It speaks to this being a blue state.” Kromer said of the fact that more than four in 10 voters are inclined to back someone other than Hogan, even though his potential Democratic challengers are not yet well known. “Regardless of how popular Hogan is, it’s still going to be competitive.”
The poll was taken Feb. 14 to 17. The questions on the Democratic primary included 454 respondents who identified themselves as registered Democrats, and had a margin of error of 4.8 percentage points. The poll results on Hogan released Tuesday included 658 registered voters, with a 3.8 percentage-point margin of error.