A new poll of likely Maryland voters shows Democrat Ben Jealous lagging behind Republican Gov. Larry Hogan by nine points. Commissioned by Jealous’s campaign, the poll also shows that about a third of voters don’t know who he is.
One of the biggest gaps for Jealous is in the Baltimore suburbs, where he trails Hogan by 18 points.
But Jealous doesn’t have to win the Baltimore suburbs to win the state, said Fred Yang, a partner at Garin Hart Yang Research who conducted the poll.
In the 2002 and 2014 elections — the last two in which Republicans became governor — the Democratic candidates lost the Baltimore suburbs by 30 points, Yang said. Former Gov. Martin O’Malley also lost the Baltimore suburbs when he won election in 2006, but by nine points.
“You don’t have to win the Baltimore suburbs as a Democrat to win statewide. You just can’t lose by 25 or 30 points,” Yang said. “The encouraging thing for the Jealous campaign is he’s losing the suburbs but by only 18. That’s roughly getting to the margin he can lose by and still win the race statewide.”
The Jealous campaign also predicts record levels of Democratic voter turnout, with 2.1 million votes cast overall, or 58 percent of eligible active voters. By comparison, less than 45 percent of voters cast ballots in 2014, and about 50 percent cast ballots four years before that, when O’Malley won a second term.
But Yang pointed to high Democratic turnout in June’s primary, as well as to nationwide trends showing increased energy among Democrats.
“This race is not immune from the broader national dynamics out there, which we’ve seen in election after election already, which is strong Democratic turnout, lackluster Republican turnout,” he said.
Scott Sloofman, a spokesman for Hogan’s campaign, said expecting such record levels of turnout is unrealistic because turnout has been declining for the last several elections.