Thursday, October 17, 2013

Quick Thoughts on New Gonzales Poll

Maryland's best pollster, Gonzales Research, has a new survey out looking at the Democratic primary in 2014. I'll have a longer post soon, but here are my quick thoughts.

He's clearly the frontrunner, The poll has him topping Gansler 41% to 21%. The Brown folks made a decision last year to start the campaign early and gather endorsements. They knew that Gansler was the presumptive frontrunner and they wanted to upend that conventional wisdom - the succeeded.
But there are warning signs for Brown. After 7 years as Lt. Gov and months of dominating the MD 2014 news, he has a 4% favorability rate and 35% have a neutral opinion of him. Most concerning is the fact that he has 82% name recognition - but is at 41%. Is that his ceiling?

Fire your campaign manager now! The time between Halloween and Thanksgiving is a great time for a campaign shake-up, because people are distracted. Gansler is at 21% in the poll. But Gansler has an opportunity. Fully 37% of Democrats did not recognize his name - so some of Brown's lead may be simple name recognition (there is evidence of a name recognition effect in the poll of Attorney General candidates). Gansler needs to start spending some money and get his name out there. Gansler has to hope that the 37% who don't know his name didn't learn it this weekend with stories about speeding and mistreatment of state troopers, to say nothing of the "henchmen" comment. Gansler has to introduce himself to that 37%, before the Brown campaign introduces him.

The news is just bad. The poll has her at 5%. Mizeur has been running a clean and positive campaign. An unorthodox campaign centered around community and volunteerism. Mizeur is running the kind of campaign that would make people proud of politicians. But no one knows it. Fully 79% of Democrats did not know her name. Gansler has the money to introduce himself to voters, Mizeur does not.

Brown's ahead and his campaign should be proud of what they have accomplished. In a true three person race Brown's 41% would be fantastic. But this doesn't look much like a three person race. And with high name recognition and 7 years on the job, I wonder if Brown is nearing his ceiling at 41%?

Gansler has an opportunity to introduce himself to the 37% who don't know him and to start tapping into the one-third of undecided voters. With Mizeur at 5% this is starting to look like a two person race and Brown's clearest advantage was in a 3 or 4 person race. But before Gansler can recover, and he has plenty of time, he needs to shake up his campaign - the sooner the better. The Brown team has been at least two steps ahead of Gansler and now Gansler needs a team that is up to the challenge.