New poll: O'Malley five points ahead of Ehrlich
Gonzales' poll reports the race at 47-42 with four percent voting for a third party candidate and six percent undecided. The survey shows that most (72 percent) of the state's Democrats have fallen in line with O'Malley, a trend O'Malley's campaign manager Tom Russell has long predicted. The state's unaffiliated voters are more likely to support Ehrlich.
There is a 3.5 percent margin for error and likely voters were interviewed via phone from Oct. 11 to Oct. 16, a week that included two televised debates between Ehrlich and O'Malley.
The new report shows O'Malley better off than he was in July, when Gonzales had O'Malley up by three points. Other recent polls have predicted a wider gap between the two candidates: The Washington Post put the race at 11 points and Rasmussen Reports recently measured it at 8. Each survey made different assumptions about turnout.
The analysis includes a helpful geographical breakdown, which shows Ehrlich up by eight points in the Baltimore suburbs, a margin that Gonzales says is "not enough" to overcome O'Malley's 40 point advantage in the Washington suburbs. O'Malley has a nine point lead among women -- a group that both camps have tried to court in recent weeks.
Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski's ratings have dropped precipitously: She's gone from a high water mark of 67 percent approval in a September 2009 Gonzales poll to a 53 percent rating this month. Still, she's 17 points ahead of GOP candidate Eric Wargotz.
African-American voters tend to view her the most favorably, with 71 percent of that group saying they approve of how she's done her job. Forty-eight percent of white voters support her, according to the poll.
On issues Democrats tend to think the state is going in "the right direction" while Republicans are more pessimistic. The independents are split fairly evenly on that question. The top concern remains the economy, followed by education, the state budget, taxes and the environment.