Poll: O'Malley pads lead against Ehrlich
* Updated with candidate reaction. *
A Washington Post poll out this morning shows that Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley has widened his lead over Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., compared to a poll the newspaper conducted earlier this year. O'Malley drew 52 percent of likely voter support to Ehrlich's 41 percent in the new poll.
And the governor appears to be more popular than in any other poll The Post has conducted during his administration, even as Maryland struggles with the fits and starts of an economy that remains fairly weak.
Ehrlich said the poll is "out of whack" with the other polls conducted in the race. "It is light years away," he said. Meanwhile, O'Malley said he's taking the results the way he takes all poll results: "with a grain of salt."
(More reaction from both candidates and their campaigns below the jump.)
With just under five weeks until Election Day, the governor candidates have kicked their campaigns into high gear, both announcing high-profile supporters yesterday and running a volley of attack ads.
Other recent polls have found a closer margin between the two candidates -- but have also shown O'Malley gaining ground when compared to earlier polls conducted by those same organizations. A Rasmussen Reports poll out Sept. 20 showed O'Malley winning 50 percent of likely voters to Ehrlich's 47 percent. An August Rasmussen poll had them tied at 47 percent.
"Nearly every other poll shows this race statistically tied," Ehrlich spokesman Henry Fawell said in an email this morning. "Just last week, The Post's own Chris Cillizza moved this race from 'leaning Democrat' to 'Toss Up.' Exactly one year ago The Post poll in the Virginia gubernatorial race said Democrat Creigh Deeds was within striking distance (four points). He lost by 18 points one month later. We are very confident that Marylanders want to do better than the massive job losses and record deficits under Martin O'Malley and are embracing Bob Ehrlich's plan to fix the economy."
O'Malley campaign spokesman Rick Abbruzzese has this to say in an email: “Maryland families know Governor O’Malley is on their side, and he’s working every day to move our state forward. There have been and will be many polls, but one consistent theme is that voters are hearing Governor O’Malley’s message and he’s well positioned to win in November.”
After an event this morning in White Marsh, O'Malley said the poll, while favorable to him a "snapshot."
"These snapshots will vary widely" throughout the next five weeks, he said. "It all comes down to turnout," he said -- something he said will be an intense focus for his campaign.
In 2006, O'Malley, then the mayor of Baltimore, toppled the popular Republican governor, winning by a margin of 6.5 percent, or about 117,000 votes. The Sun recently examined how the electorate has changed in the past four years and what each candidate must do to win.