By William F. Zorzi
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III remains ahead in a swollen pack of Democratic candidates for governor, finding support among more than a quarter of likely voters in the June primary election, a new poll shows.
Baker, who has emerged as the front-runner in other early polling, is favored by 26 percent of voters statewide, trailed by Baltimore County Kevin B. Kamenetz with 15 percent and Benjamin T. Jealous, the former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People who resides in Anne Arundel County, with 14 percent, the poll shows.
Five other Democratic hopefuls saw only single-digit support, with 32 percent of likely voters still undecided, the statewide survey by Washington-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy Inc. shows.
Between Feb. 20-24 Mason-Dixon interviewed 500 voters registered as Democrats who said they would likely vote in the June 26 primary. Voters were asked who they would vote for, if the primary election were today. The margin of error was 4.5 points.
Results for the remaining five candidates were: state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. of Montgomery County is favored by 4 percent of voters; James L. “Jim” Shea of Baltimore County and Krishanti Vignarajah of Montgomery County, each with 3 percent; Alexander J. “Alec” Ross III of Baltimore City with 2 percent; and Ralph W. Jaffe of Baltimore County with 1 percent.
The telephone poll was conducted before all the candidates had picked their running mates and before the deadline Tuesday to register for the primary with the Maryland State Board of Elections.
Unsurprisingly, geography played a significant part in whom voters said they would support. Voters polled from across the state were grouped into three separate geographic areas to simplify the poll results – the Washington and Baltimore metropolitan areas and rural Maryland.
Baker drew his highest support – 40 percent — from among Washington area voters, while Kamenetz drew most of his backing – 24 percent — from the Baltimore area. Jealous’ support seemed most balanced across the board, with 12 percent from the Washington suburbs, 17 percent from the Baltimore metro area and 10 percent from rural Maryland.
Again, the remaining five candidates had single-digit support in the three groupings, though no support was shown among surveyed voters for any of them in rural parts of the state. Shea and Jaffe also had no support whatsoever in the Washington metro areas, the poll showed.
In a second question, voters were asked whether they recognized the candidates’ names and if so, whether their impressions were favorable, unfavorable or neutral.
Again, Baker tops the list, being recognized favorably by 34 percent of voters polled, trailed by Kamenetz with 19 percent, Jealous with 17 percent and Madaleno with 12 percent, the poll shows. The remaining four candidates polled in single digits.
Only Kamenetz left a double-digit number of voters with an unfavorable impression, with 11 percent.
The eight Democratic candidates all seemed to have a way to go in getting voters’ attention. The polls shows that 29 percent of voters polled did not recognize Baker’s name; 41 percent did not know who Kamenetz was; and 45 percent did not recognize Jealous’ name.
From there, the numbers rose sharply, with 62 percent of voters not knowing Madaleno; 69 percent not knowing Vignarajah’s name; 79 percent not knowing Shea; 85 percent being unfamiliar with Ross; and 88 percent not knowing who Jaffe was.
The winner and running mate of the Democratic primary will face Republicans Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. and Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford in the Nov. 6 general election.