By Kate Ryan
A new poll finds a statistical tie in the Democratic primary race for governor of Maryland. But not only are a lot of voters undecided; a majority say they’re open to changing their minds.
“Peter Franchot, Tom Perez and Wes Moore are all effectively tied at right around 15% of the vote each,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College.
The Goucher College poll was conducted in partnership with the Baltimore Banner and radio station WYPR.
Franchot is Maryland’s comptroller; Perez is the former head of the National Democratic Committee and former U.S. labor secretary; Moore is an author, veteran and former CEO.
Just 5% of those polled support Doug Gansler, the former Maryland attorney general; 4% would choose John King, former U.S. secretary for education. Jon Baron, a former nonprofit executive, was chosen by 2% of the likely voters polled, and Ashwani Jain, a former appointee in the Obama White House, was also selected by 2% of those surveyed.
But Kromer said voters who named a preferred candidate made clear they were open to suggestion.
“We actually followed up and asked folks if they had selected a candidate, if they would consider changing their mind,” she said. More than 60% said they were open to choosing a different candidate. Among the likely Democratic voters, 35% said they are undecided, weeks before the July 19 primary.
Kromer said the Republican side is also “competitive,” with Del. Dan Cox supported by 25% of those asked; former Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz was the choice of 22% of Republican voters polled.
The poll found 47% said they could change their minds, and 44% were undecided.
The margin of error for the poll, which focused on likely voters, is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points for Democrats and 4.8 for Republicans.
Kromer said survey respondents were also asked to identify the issues of biggest concern.
“What’s really interesting here is that, for as much division as we see between Democrats and Republicans, there is something at least they can agree on,” she said.
Democrats and Republicans named the price of gas, inflation and public safety as major concerns. “Those are three issues that members of both parties seem to be really concerned about, and I think, certainly, you see reflected in some of the campaigns for governor,” said Kromer.
Outgoing Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr., a Republican in a blue state, has enjoyed consistently high ratings over his two terms in office. Kromer said his popularity continues to hold.
Among Democratic voters polled, Hogan has a 64% favorability rating, with 29% giving him an unfavorable rating. Among voters in the GOP, 67% give Hogan a favorable rating; 30% give him an unfavorable score.
Abortion and gun control
The poll was taken before the U.S. Supreme Court issued the decision that overturned Roe v Wade, but after information was leaked about the expected ruling.
“A majority opinion in the state, that’s held among Democrats and Republicans, is that abortion should be allowed at least some of the time,” Kromer said.
But according to Kromer, “60% of Democrats believe it should be legal under any circumstances, where 57% of Republicans think abortion should be legal only under certain circumstances.”
When it comes to gun control, Kromer said, “Nearly three-quarters of Democrats, compared to just 28% of Republicans, think that state laws covering the sale of firearms should be made stricter.”
Gun control is important to voters, but Kromer said it’s not always a deal-breaker.
“A majority of Democrats and Republicans both say they consider a candidate’s position on gun control as one of many important factors,” she said. “So it’s not a deciding factor for them; it is one of a package of factors that they consider.”
As part of Maryland Matters’ content sharing agreement with WTOP Radio, we feature this article from Kate Ryan. Click here for the WTOP News website.