Maryland political junkies have been treated to a slew of statewide polls lately - we've been treated to 4 new polls in as many weeks. In general, the polling data released during the first half of the last four weeks mostly suggested that Governor Martin O'Malley is in danger of losing his job and that former Governor Bob Ehrlich is gaining momentum in his quest to reclaim his old job. But the two most recent polls paint a far murkier picture - combined, the four polls confirm that the Maryland gubernatorial race is a pure toss-up (and that's usually considered to be worse news for the incumbent).
Polls by Rasmussen Reports and Magellan strategies, release in late June and the first week of July, each should Ehrlich with a narrow lead. The Rasmussen survey showed Ehrlich erasing what had been a O'Mally lead, and the Magellan poll showed Ehrlich running strong among Democracts - a necessity in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a two-to-one margin.
A few days after the Magellan poll, Public Policy Strategies reported that O'Malley had a slight lead - but confirmed that Ehrlich was winning nearly a quarter of all Democrats and enjoyed a wide lead among Independent voters.
Today, the latest Gonzales Research poll was released and it shows O'Malley with a small lead as well - 45% to 42%.
The bad news for Ehrlich:
- The Gonzales poll shows O'Malley and Ehrlich tied among Independents and Ehrlich winning only 20% of Democrats - Ehrlich must win Independent voters by a clear margin and he needs to carry roughly 25% of Democrats.
- O'Malley's re-elect numbers have gone down 4 points since last year, he is stuck in the mid-40% range in this and every other poll.. What had been a 9 point lead in January is now a 3 point lead. O'Malley's approval rating is below 50%.
- This race could go either way. I think that it is likely to be decided by a matter of 20,000 votes - more or less.
- O'Malley is in a bad spot for an incumbent, but two of the last four polls have Ehrlich still in the low 40s.