A month-old poll conducted for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore shows a wide-open race for the nomination in 2022 — though with plenty of room for Moore, a first-time candidate, to grow and prevail.
Unsurprisingly, the most seasoned candidates in the Democratic race — Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot and former Prince George’s County executive Rushern L. Baker III — led the field, with 17% and 12% respectively. Franchot has been elected statewide four times, while Baker ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2018 after running countywide four times in Prince George’s, the jurisdiction with the most Democrats in Maryland.
They were followed by Moore, an author and former nonprofit CEO, with 7%; former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez with 6%; and former state attorney general Douglas F. Gansler with 4%. Michael Rosenbaum, a Baltimore tech entrepreneur, was named by 2% of poll respondents, and former U.S. Education secretary John B. King Jr. polled at 1%.
The other Democratic candidates — former Clinton administration official Jon Baron and former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain — did not register in the poll. Fully 52% of all survey respondents said they were undecided.
But pollsters at Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, a leading national Democratic firm that is working for Moore and has previously polled for the past three Democratic nominees for governor, saw plenty of potential for their candidate.
The poll of 500 likely Democratic primary voters was taken Aug. 30-Sept. 2. The survey, which was obtained by Maryland Matters from a strategist with close ties to state politics, had a 4.5-point margin of error.
“Our survey shows that more than half of the primary electorate is undecided — revealing an extremely fluid and up-for-grabs election,” Garin-Hart-Yang said in a polling memo dated Sept. 27. “While the more well-known candidates are slightly ahead, first-time candidate Wes Moore is in a competitive position and shows strong potential to win the primary once he increases his profile.”
Of the top four candidates in the poll, Moore had the lowest statewide name recognition — 31%, compared with Franchot (65%), Baker (46%), Gansler (46%), and Perez (44%). But among Maryland Democrats who said they were familiar with Moore, he led the field with 21% of the vote, followed by Franchot (16%), while the other candidates polled in the single digits.
“While we expect Wes to run strongly with voters who know him, these results are very encouraging because they confirm that as more Marylanders get to know Wes’ powerful life story and impressive agenda as governor during the course of the campaign, the more his support will grow,” the pollsters wrote.