Poll: Mikulski, O'Malley have solid job approval ratings; O'Malley would top Ehrlich or Steele in 2010
The latest Maryland statewide poll results are out today, showing solid numbers for Democratic incumbents Barbara Mikulski and Martin O'Malley as voter concern over the economy subsides slightly.
O'Malley's job approval rating is 48 percent, with 37 percent saying they disapprove of the job he is doing as governor, according to the survey from Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies.
That's all but unchanged from January, when 49 percent of Marylanders surveyed said they approved of the governor's performance, and 37 percent expressed disapproval. The governor's approval rating hit a low in the March 2008 Gonzales survey, when 37 percent expressed satisfaction.
Mikulski's job approval rating is 67 percent, according to the poll -- just about where it was when she cruised to a re-election win in 2004. "She appears headed toward another easy re-election," pollster Patrick Gonzales said of the results in a report.
O'Malley, too, is up for re-election next year. Gonzales tested match-ups between O'Malley and former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., and with former Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele. O'Malley was ahead in both.
Gonzales found that O'Malley was ahead of Ehrlich, 49 percent to 38 percent, with 13 percent undecided. "Ehrlich appears to be about where he was three years ago when he left office," Gonzales wrote. "Well-enough liked, but unable to get much beyond his base."
O'Malley led Steele, 52 percent to 37 percent.
O'Malley has not formally announced a re-election campaign, but is expected to run. Ehrlich is examining options; Steele appears more than content to continue his term as Republican national chairman. Democrats hold a voter registration edge of more than 2 to 1 in Maryland.
Forty-two percent of Marylanders said they had a favorable opinion of Ehrlich, and 26 percent said their opinion was unfavorable. For Steele, the favorable number was 40 percent, and the unfavorable figure was 34 percent. O'Malley's favorability ranking was 47 percent, and 28 percent gave him an unfavorable grade. For Mikulski, the numbers were 64 percent favorable, and 23 percent unfavorable.
The survey was conducted Sept. 8 to Sept. 17, reaching 833 registered voters by telephone. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.
The Gonzales survey found that 43 percent of voters said the economy was the most important issue facing the state, far above health care (13 percent) and taxes (12 percent). In January, 61 percent of voters said it was the most important issue.
Gonzales said that the face that 55 percent of voters cite the economy or taxes as a prime concern "is a warning sign for incumbent office holders."
But voters are offering politicians no clear direction about where to go. Gonzales found little support for any budget-balancing move he tested. A clear majority of voters oppose increases in the states income or sales taxes, as well as reductions in services for the poor, public education, higher education spending, transportation or environmental programs.