Friday, October 22, 2010

In Closely Watched Maryland Swing District Republican Andy Harris Widens Lead

Many reporters have asked me how Democrat Frank Kratovil in Maryland 1st Congressional District had managed to weather the storm so far this election cycle - I said that it was testament to his strength as a candidate, but in the end the 2010 electoral tide woould wash him out of office. It now seems that the tide is coming in. After running a close race with Andy Harris a new Monmouth Poll finds Harris opening an 11 point lead.

This new poll has implications for the Maryland governors race as well, Harris leads Kratovil 58 to 34 among Independents. The district includes parts of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, and Harford counties. These counties, along with Howard, will be crucial to Republican Bob Ehrlich's reelection bid. If Harris truly enjoys a 24 point lead among Independents over the conservative Kratovil then it is reasonable to assume that Ehrlich will enjoy a similar margin over the more progressive Martin O'Malley.  Ehrlich needs to win Anne Arundel, Baltimore, and Harford and run even in Howard to win the governors race - if the segments of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, and Harford included in the first district are representative of their respective counties then Bob Ehrlich may just manage a come from behind victory.

Original Post
I'm often asked about the Andy Harris / Frank Kratovil rematch in Maryland's 1st Congressional District. The moderate district had been a reliably Republican district when represented by the equally moderate Wayne Gilchrest. In 2008, Gilchrest was defeated in the Republican primary by the more conservative Andy Harris. Gilchrest endoresed Democrat Harris and that combined with Barack Obama's strong performance in the state helped elect Kratovil by about 2,000 votes.

Much has changed since 2008. The momentum nationally is with Republicans and Kratovil, though he voted against health care reform, has been painted with the broad brush of the unpopular Democratic leadership and Kratovil will not have the benefit of Barack Obama or Wayne Gilchrest's endorsement.  For those reasons I give the edge to Andy Harris. A new poll shows Harris leading 43% to 40% with about 15% undecided. Though within the margin of error, Kratovil is at 40% - deadly territory for an incumbent. Given the trajectory of the 2010 midterms, I do not see how Kratovil survives.