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October 4, 2010

Mikulski: Big lead but no longer biggest favorite

It has been a standard line for years about Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski: She's "the most popular politician in Maryland." 

Not any more, apparently.

Mikulski is still viewed favorably by Maryland voters.  A total of 52 percent of registered voters in a newly released Washington Post poll gave her a favorable rating.

But that's down from 64 percent favorability in the same poll, in January, 2004, the last time she ran for re-election.

By comparison, the statewide poll, conducted Sept. 22-26, showed two other politicians whom Maryland voters view more favorably than Mikulski: Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, rated favorably by 64 percent,  and Republican nominee Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., by 55 percent (that last number falls within the poll's margin of error with Mikulski's, but O'Malley's does not).

She may no longer be Maryland's favorite pol, but the 74-year-old senator appears to be cruising toward another six-year term in Washington.

The Baltimore native holds a lopsided two-to-one lead in the poll over Republican challenger Eric Wargotz, a Queen Anne's County commissioner.

The state's senior senator led by 59 percent to 24 percent among registered voters and by 61 percent to 29 percent among likely voters. The survey found Mikulski leading Wargotz in every part of the state and among nearly all demographic groups, the Post said.

Campaign analyst Stu Rothenberg attributed Mikulski's drop in popularity to anti-incumbent sentiment seen nationwide this year. But that speculation may not account for her slippage in favorability, since O'Malley, also an incumbent, drew a higher rating in the same survey.

Instead, the responses of younger voters help explain her fall from first place.

Among those in the 18 to 34 age group, Mikulski's favorable rating declined from 53 percent in 2004 to 32 percent. Her unfavorable rating rose by 9 percent and the percentage of those expressing no opinion increased by 12 points, to 48 percent.

Even younger voters who favored Mikulski were unfamiliar with her and her work, the poll found. As the Post noted, Mikulski is an influential senator, but she's not a party leader and doesn't chair a full committee. She also doesn't attract national attention to her campaigns because they're not competitive.

Her favorability also fell sharply among Republicans, independents and white voters (clearly there's overlap among those categories). For more details, click here.

Posted by Paul West at 11:03 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Candidate Watch 2010


I agree with this posted comment: "Interesting but in stark contrast to Rasmussen Poll results and others which give Wargotz an 11 to 16 point trail behind Mikulski. Perhaps its the methodology the Wash Post uses. A methodology which has already raised controversy and debate regarding the assumptions it makes about election turnout. This very issue has been the subject of a number of very good articles and critiques particularly in reference to the identical issues regarding the very wide double digit gap reported by the Wash post for O'malley - Ehrlich race on last Tuesday.

If you take into consideration the same "subtraction and division" factors regarding the Wash Post assumptions on both races, then Ehrlich is trailing O'Malley by a few points as independent pollsters report and Wargotz trails Mikulski by only 11 to 16 also as independent pollsters show. Interesting indeed!"

can't belive the people of maryland would be stupid enough to re-elect Babs She needs to be put out to pasture. But then again look at your president.Proves there are a lot of stupid people out there. Woe is me.

I wish there was more coverage of the candidates and their positions instead of reporting about who is ahead in the polls. Shouldn't the media want to create an informed electorate? What is the difference between the two candidates? I am very disappointed at how little coverage the senate race is getting. Maryland deserves better.

Marylanders are widely considered stupid, mostly because they send her back to office over and over. Her own party has no repsect for her. They order her to vote with Obama bin Lying, and she does it. Out with the old!

Marylander voters are widely considered stupid, mostly because they send her back to office over and over. That is why outside groups run ads that lie to us. Her own party has no repsect for her. They order her to vote with Obama bin Lying, and she does it. Out with the old!

It is amazing how someone who says she
" Fights for Maryland " would deny social security recipients cost of living adjustment by not passing a budget yet would allow her automatic congressional pay increase to kick in... to h*** with the poor masses eh Babs ?


Neither of your points have any truth to them. Congress voted to reject their pay raise and the COLA for Social Security is set by a law passed in the 70s during the Nixon administration. Go peddle your bunk somewhere else.

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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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