Former Attorney General Doug Gansler (D) fares better in a head-to-head matchup with Gov. Larry Hogan (R) than four other Democrats who are also contemplating running for governor next year, according to a poll conducted for Gansler two months ago.
The poll, obtained Monday by Maryland Matters, also showed Gansler with the highest name recognition and the highest net favorable ratings of the five Democrats tested – among all voters as well as registered Democrats.
Gansler confirmed the authenticity of the poll in an interview Monday but was not Maryland Matters’ source.
Gansler, who lost a bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2014, said he is still pondering whether to try again.
“I still have a passion and a yearning for public service,” he said. “In terms of looking at this race, I can say I’m 100 percent undecided.”
The poll was conducted in late March by Expedition Strategies, a firm headed by Pete Brodnitz, a widely respected Democratic pollster and former partner with Joel Benenson, who was a top strategist for President Obama and for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign last year.
While the polling memo Brodnitz sent to Gansler did not disclose the survey’s sample size or margin of error, it showed:
**Gansler trailing Hogan in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, 47 percent to 38 percent. But that’s a better showing than any of the other Democrats tested in the survey. Hogan led Rep. John Delaney (D) 48 percent to 35 percent, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker (D) 48 percent to 34 percent, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz (D) 49 percent to 34 percent, and former NAACP President Ben Jealous (D) 49 percent to 33 percent.
**Among all voters, Gansler was known by 55 percent; 39 percent viewed him favorably and 16 percent viewed him unfavorably. Jealous was known by 41 percent of voters, and had a 30 percent to 11 percent favorable/unfavorable rating. Delaney was known by 38 percent of voters and had a 28 percent to 10 percent favorable/unfavorable score. Kamenetz was known by 37 percent of voters; 22 percent viewed him favorably and 15 percent unfavorably. Baker was known to 36 percent of voters and had a 22 percent to 14 percent favorable/unfavorable rating.
**Among registered Democrats, Gansler was known by 65 percent of voters and had a 54 percent to 11 percent favorable/unfavorable rating. Jealous was known by 49 percent of voters, and had a 43 percent to 6 percent favorable/unfavorable score. Delaney was known by 43 percent of voters; 39 percent viewed him favorably and 4 pecent unfavorably. Baker was known by 43 percent of voters and had a 33 percent to 10 percent favorable/unfavorable rating. Kamenetz was known to 41 percent of voters and had a 32 percent to 9 percent favorable/unfavorable score.
**Hogan was viewed favorably by 62 percent of voters and unfavorably by 22 percent. Fifty-five percent of survey respondents said Hogan is doing an excellent or good job as governor and 40 percent rated his job performance as fair or poor.
**President Trump, as many Democrats believe, could be a hindrance to Hogan’s re-election; only one-quarter of the survey respondents gave Trump a positive job rating, while 71 percent rated it fair or poor.
**In a matchup against a generic Democrat, Hogan was favored by 45 percent of the poll respondents compared to 35 percent for the Democrat.
The poll did not test three other potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates: state Sen. Rich Madaleno, tech entrepreneur Alec Ross and attorney Jim Shea. Ross has formally entered the race, Madaleno has publicly said he plans to run, and Shea is actively exploring.
Gansler said he took encouragement from the poll but did not see it as a factor in his ultimate decision. He said people daily urge him to run for governor again: “All the poll did is confirm what I’ve been hearing in the streets and the people who have been reaching out.”
While other candidates begin to mobilize, raise money and put together a campaign staff, Gansler, with higher name recognition, may have the luxury of waiting longer before reaching a final decision.
He has upped his public appearances lately, however. On Monday, Gansler was interviewed on MSNBC about former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the new special counsel investigating Trump campaign ties to Russia, and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Gansler once worked for Mueller in the homicide division of the Washington, D.C., U.S. attorney’s office and knows Rosenstein well from the latter’s long tenure as U.S. attorney for Maryland.
This week, Gansler is mingling with the scores of Maryland politicians and business leaders, including Hogan, who are attending the annual International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas.