Clarus Group On Maryland: 2010 Election Preview Polling ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Clarus Group On Maryland: 2010 Election Preview Polling

The results of a new statewide poll of Maryland voters reveal that Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley may be vulnerable when he seeks re-election next year. The poll, conducted by the nonpartisan Clarus Research Group Oct. 30-Nov. 2, also shows that economic and state fiscal issues are damaging O’Malley’s political prospects in this heavily Democratic state.

Findings from the Clarus Poll:

• A year before the 2010 election, 48 percent of Maryland voters approve of the job Gov. O’Malley is doing and 40 percent disapprove.

• 39 percent of voters polled say they want to see O’Malley re-elected, but 48 percent say they would like for someone new to win.

• In a trial heat against former Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich, the man O’Malley defeated in 2006, O’Malley leads his former GOP rival by a 47-40 percent margin. (In the 2006 election, O’Malley won by a 53-46 percent margin. Ehrlich has not yet announced his intentions for the 2010 election.)

• O’Malley scores majority support on only one of 11 key state issues tested: 54 percent approval for “living up to high standards of ethics.”

• On seven of the 11 issues tested, O’Malley scored less than 40 percent approval: 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.

• In the 2010 trial heat, Ehrlich leads O’Malley in the state’s western counties (by 22 percent) and in Eastern Shore/southern counties (by 13 percent). They tied in the Baltimore area. O’Malley’s statewide lead is attributable to his strong 42-point lead in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. In the 2006 election, according to exit polls, O’Malley won 70 percent in the Washington suburbs, 52 percent in the Baltimore area and 39 percent in the rest of the state.

• 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.

“Governor O’Malley is now below 50 percent across-the-board in the triple crown of re-election poll metrics: trial heat, generic re-elect, and job approval,” said Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus Research Group. “O’Malley faces two major problems that are dragging him down. First, his issue ratings are lackluster, especially on economic and fiscal matters. Second, he’s polling only 34 percent of independents against Ehrlich. In the 2006 election, he received 47 percent of independents. That’s a big drop, one that represents opportunity for a 2010 challenger,” Faucheux said.

 “O’Malley is favored for re-election because of Maryland’s strong Democratic tilt,” Faucheux said, “but if the state’s current economic and fiscal troubles persist, he could be vulnerable to a strong opponent.”

“An incumbent governor at this point in a first term has two big advantages over potential rivals: time and power,” said Faucheux. “O’Malley has 12 months until the next election to shore up negatives and enhance positives. He has also the power to set an agenda and command public attention on issues of his choosing.”

Other findings from the Clarus Poll:

• President Barack Obama’s job approval rating is 60 percent in Maryland, higher than the rest of the nation, and 12 points higher than O’Malley’s. (In 2008, Obama received 62 percent of the state’s vote. This 2-point falloff is in line with nationwide numbers.)

• Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski, who faces re-election next year, scored a 57 percent job approval with 53 percent of voters saying they’d like to see her re-elected and 36 percent saying they want someone new.

• Other job ratings: Senator Ben Cardin (46 percent approve, 26 percent disapprove); Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (33 percent approve, 19 percent disapprove); Attorney General Doug Gansler (34 percent approve, 17 percent disapprove), and Comptroller Peter Franchot (35 percent approve, 18 percent disapprove). All Maryland statewide elected officials tested are Democrats.
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Clarus conducted the statewide poll among 637 voters in Maryland, based on a representative sample. The margin of error is +/- 3.9 percent. Interviews were conducted via telephone by live interviewers between October 30 and November 2, 2009. (It should be noted that all interviews were completed before the Nov. 3 elections.) Questions in this poll were not asked on behalf of, or paid for by, any client, political candidate or party organization. This study was conducted for the internal use of Clarus.

Dr. Ron Faucheux
Clarus Research Group
For more information about the poll, contact Ron Faucheux (
For more information about Clarus Research Group, go to


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