Poll Shows Hogan Could Tip Key Baltimore County State Senate Race
By Josh Kurtz
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) could make all the difference in the looming Baltimore County showdown between state Sen. Kathy Klausmeier (D) and Del. Christian Miele (R), a Republican poll shows.
The poll, conducted in late June for the Maryland Republican Party and obtained by Maryland Matters, showed Klausmeier with a 46 percent to 37 percent lead over Miele in an initial head-to-head question.
But when Hogan’s endorsement of Miele was mentioned – coupled with a suggestion that Klausmeier was close to former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) – the percentage almost flips: the freshman Republican zoomed to 48 percent, while Klausmeier dropped to 35 percent.
The robo-poll of 361 registered voters, conducted June 26-29 by Burton Research and Strategies – a firm owned by former Maryland GOP executive director Jim Burton – had a 5.1-point margin of error.
“With a strong campaign that is well funded and has dedicated hours going door to door, Christian Miele is likely to be sworn in as the district’s State Senator in January of 2019,” Burton wrote in a memo to Maryland Republican Chairman Dirk Haire.
The Hogan factor appears to be key in District 8 – one of several Senate districts that the GOP is hoping to flip in 2018.
Klausmeier is extremely well known and fairly well liked, according to the poll. The four-term senator, who also spent two terms in the House, was known by 83 percent of voters. She was viewed favorably by 40 percent and unfavorably by 19 percent. Twenty-four percent of the voters in the eastern Baltimore County district had heard of Klausmeier but had no opinion.
Miele was known by 61 percent of voters – a surprisingly high total for a freshman lawmaker. His favorable to unfavorable ratings were 24 percent to 7 percent. A third of voters had no opinion.
But Hogan’s numbers in the district are off the charts – even though Democrats have a 1.8-1 advantage in voter registration. He was viewed favorably by 65 percent of voters in the poll and unfavorably by 18 percent.
Seventy-one percent of voters approved of the job Hogan is doing as governor; 69 percent said he has earned re-election. Sixty-eight percent of poll respondents said the state is heading in the right direction.
Even before Hogan’s name was mentioned, when asked whether they’d be inclined to support a Republican or a Democrat for the state Senate seat, 49 percent of voters said they’d favor the GOP candidate while 37 percent preferred the Democrat. But Klausmeier showed a 46 percent to 37 percent advantage over Miele in the initial head-to-head when the two candidates were named — a function, the pollster believes, of her high name recognition.
However, brief statements were then read to voters about the candidates:
“Christian Miele is a 36-year-old first-term State Delegate who is endorsed by Governor Larry Hogan.”
And: “Kathy Klausmeier is a State Senator who has served in public office since 1995 and was a strong supporter of former Governor Martin O’Malley.”
After those statements were read, Miele surged to a 48 percent to 35 percent lead.
According to Burton’s analysis, after the Hogan connection was disclosed, “Miele picked up support from key groups including women, seniors, white Democrats and conservative Democrats.”
The district, which includes Parkville, Perry Hall, White Marsh and other communities, is the type of blue-collar area that Democrats — in Maryland and nationally — are desperate to win back.
The poll found that 38 percent of the district’s voters identify themselves as conservative, and 40 percent identify as moderate. Just 14 percent label themselves liberal.
“Voters in this district are inclined to vote for someone who is working to carry out Governor Hogan’s agenda,” Burton wrote. “Democrats in the district strongly support Governor Hogan and his agenda. The mood in the district is ripe for electing Delegate Christian Miele to the State Senate.”
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