Independent candidate for U.S. Senate Neal Simon has gained support among likely voters — though the Potomac businessman substantially trails Democratic incumbent Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, according to polling figures released last week.
Among likely voters who have already decided on a candidate in the race, Simon polled third, according to the survey results, but his campaign focused on trajectory and the number of as-yet undecided voters who lean in his direction.
When asked by pollsters how they would vote if the election were held today, 48.6 percent of respondents said they would vote for Cardin and 21 percent said they would vote for Republican Tony Campbell. An additional 18.1 percent were undecided and 12.3 percent said they would vote for Simon.
When undecided voters were asked who they would lean toward, Simon picked up additional support, about 17.7 percent total.
About 30 percent of the undecided voters in the poll leaned to Simon, compared to 4 percent for Cardin and 3 percent for Campbell.
“Now that Marylanders are noticing there is another viable and credible choice for the U.S. Senate besides Ben Cardin, more and more Independents, Democrats, and Republicans are supporting our efforts to change the way Washington works,” Simon said in a news release. “We are committed to winning on November 6 and will work tirelessly to listen to Marylanders and take our message across the great state of Maryland.”
Three questions about Simon’s candidacy were paid for by his campaign and appended to a statewide poll of likely voters conducted by Gonzales Research & Media Services earlier this month. The Gonzales survey compiled the choices of 806 likely voters. The poll’s margin of error was 3.5 points.
Gonzales’ polling showed Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) with an 18-point lead over Democratic challenger Benjamin T. Jealous and a tighter-than-expected race for attorney general, where incumbent Brian E. Frosh (D) held a 9-point lead against Republican challenger Craig Wolf.
Simon’s campaign noted that their questions added to the poll showed less than 50 percent support for Cardin, and said the figures make Simon the “best performing independent U.S. Senate candidate in the country.”
“When mapping out our path to victory, this is exactly where we thought we would be 26 days before Election Day,” said Steve Crim, Simon’s campaign director and the former director of Hogan’s 2014 campaign, in a news release touting the results. “Neal still has plenty of room to define his candidacy, especially because his name recognition is only at 47 percent. We will continue to see momentum in the polls as more and more Marylanders see that they have a better choice for U.S. Senate besides politicians who put party bosses ahead of hard working Marylanders.”
Simon, 50, is CEO of Bronfman Rothschild, an investment and wealth management firm and a first-time candidate who said he was driven to run by a distaste for hyper-partisanship on Capitol Hill. He has invested more than $500,000 of his own money into his campaign.
Cardin, 75, is seeking his third term in the Senate and has held elected office in the state of Maryland since 1967.
Campbell is a political science professor at Towson University and longtime GOP activist.
Pollster Patrick Gonzales said beating Cardin in November will be “a tall order.” While Simon is mounting a well-funded campaign with a message that’s reaching voters, he and Campbell will still split voters to Cardin’s benefit, Gonzales said.
Sue Walitsky, Cardin’s spokeswoman, responded generally about the state of the campaign.
“Senator Cardin continues a strong campaign connecting with voters all across the state and he will continue to run hard through Election Day,” she said.