Poll shows O'Malley may be vulnerable; devil's in the details
Gov. Martin O’Malley would best former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich in a poll about a hypothetical rematch in 2010, but the sitting governor still may be vulnerable, according to pollsters at Clarus Research Group. How did they come to that conclusion? Several layers of data provide the answer.
First of all, pollsters pitted O’Malley against “someone new” in one question put to voters. While O’Malley has Ehrlich beat by a 47-40 percent margin in the poll, he lost to a nameless opponent by a 48-39 percent margin. That's a mixed bag for O’Malley, the incumbent Democrat next November, as well as Ehrlich, a Republican who hasn’t even revealed whether or not he’ll run next year.
But other questions also yielded telling results, according to Clarus. O’Malley scored less than 40 percent approval of the way he’s handling seven issues — holding down state taxes, bringing new jobs to Maryland, managing the state budget, bringing people together to solve problems, putting Maryland’s interest above partisan politics, keeping in touch with average citizens, and protecting consumers against high electric utility rates. It has to hurt that only 33 percent approved of O’Malley’s handling of the utility issue even after his recent public clashes with Constellation Energy Group during which he sought rate relief for customers of Baltimore Gas & Electric Co.
O’Malley only scored majority approval on one of the issues — 54 percent for living up to high standards of ethics. Then again, 48 percent of those polled approved of the overall job O’Malley is doing while only 40 percent disapproved
Clarus also provided more detail on the O’Malley-Ehrlich matchup.
Ehrlich leads O’Malley in the state’s western counties by 22 percent and in Eastern Shore/southern counties by 13 percent. They are tied in the Baltimore area. O’Malley’s statewide lead is based in part on his his strong 42-point lead in the Washington suburbs, Clarus reported.
O’Malley scored a 21-point lead among women voters and a 66-point advantage among African Americans, but Ehrlich carried men by 9 points and whites by 14 points. Ehrlich leads independents by 14 points, according to Clarus.
The poll of 637 Maryland voters by Clarus, a non-partisan survey organization, was conducted by telephone interviewers between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.