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Maryland voters still largely undecided for Governor's Race, poll shows

Rachel Baye

Maryland’s primary election is three weeks away, and a new survey indicates that the races for the Republican and Democratic nominations for governor are tight. The Goucher College Poll, conducted in partnership with WYPR and the Baltimore Banner, found statistical ties in both parties’ contests.

WYPR reporter Rachel Baye discussed the results with Nathan Sterner.


Let’s start with the Democratic side. Who are the frontrunners?


We have a three-way tie. Sixteen percent of Democratic likely voters said if the primary were held today, they would support current state Comptroller Peter Franchot for governor. Fourteen percent picked Wes Moore, and another 14% said Tom Perez. So that’s a slight advantage for Franchot, but within the poll’s margin of error. They were also the only three candidates with double-digit support.

That said, there’s still a lot of uncertainty in this race. Thirty-five percent of Democrats said they are undecided, and a whopping 63% said they could change their mind about who they are supporting.

According to Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College, who oversaw the poll, those remaining votes are likely to go to Franchot, Moore or Perez.


“These three candidates have a lot of money, and so it is likely that these three candidates are the ones who will be vying for those votes in the last sort of waning weeks. So it is unlikely that somebody without a lot of campaign resources can compete for that big chunk of undecided voters.”


What about on the Republican side?


Again, we have a statistical tie, this time between Dan Cox, who represents part of Frederick County in the House of Delegates, and former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz.

But just like on the Democratic side, 44% of Republican likely voters said they are undecided, and 47% said they could change their minds.


The race between Cox and Schulz also reflects some of the dynamics we’re seeing in a lot of races around the country, with one candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump, and the other endorsed by a vocal Trump opponent, like Gov. Larry Hogan.

How are those dynamics evident in the poll results?


The most interesting way this plays out is actually among Democratic likely voters.

Democrats were told that Hogan has endorsed Schulz and Trump has endorsed Cox. They were then asked if, knowing this, they would consider crossing party lines to vote for Schulz or Cox in the general election.

I’ll let Mileah Kromer explain the results.


And what you see is a pretty clear picture that Democratic voters are unwilling to consider voting for Dan Cox, and that enough of them are currently willing to consider voting for Kelly Schulz that would make her potentially competitive in a general election in which she has to win Democratic voters, a large swath of independent voters and full support from that Republican base.


Remember that registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in Maryland roughly two to one, so any statewide candidate, regardless of their party, would need at least some Democratic votes to win in November.


Let’s talk about the issues that are driving voters’ choices. What issues does the poll say are most important?


Overwhelming majorities of both Democrats and Republicans polled said economic issues — specifically inflation and the price of gas — are major concerns. Crime and public safety also rated highly among members of both parties. The third issue both Democrats and Republicans said was a major concern was the quality of K-12 public schools.

But on most of the other issues, there was wide disagreement. For example, Democrats are overwhelmingly concerned about a lack of affordable housing, as well as about climate change. Republicans don’t seem to share those concerns.


Yeah, another big issue for Republicans is taxes.

The Goucher College Poll has an overall margin of sampling error of +/- 4.4%.

You’ll find more methodology and information online at WYPR.org.

Maryland’s primary election is on July 19, and in-person early voting starts Thursday of next week.

See full poll results here.

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom.
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