BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- With Maryland's July primary election a few weeks out, three Democratic candidates for the state's highest elected office are running neck and neck, according to the results of a new poll.
The poll of roughly 1,000 likely voters, conducted by Goucher College in partnership with The Baltimore Banner and WYPR, finds Comptroller Peter Franchot, nonprofit CEO Wes Moore and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez are tied in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, with each of them carrying double-digit support.
Franchot (16%), Moore (14%) and Perez (14%) polled well ahead of the rest of the Democratic field, trailed by Doug Gansler (5%), John King (4%), and Jon Baron and Ashwani Wain, each of whom had 2%. Over one-third of voters (35%) are undecided, while nearly two-thirds (63%) said they could change their minds.
"Our poll was conducted one month out from the primary election," said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College. "The three frontrunners—Franchot, Moore, and Perez—each have the campaign funds and endorsements to compete for the voters of a largely undecided and malleable Democratic primary electorate. Still, even with the investments of their significant resources, it's unclear how much attention the average voter will pay to the mid-July primary."
It's a similar story in the Republican gubernatorial primary with what is shaping up to be a close race between Dan Cox (25%), who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump, and Kelly Schulz (22%), who has the support of Gov. Larry Hogan. Notably, 44% of voters said they are undecided and nearly half (47%) left the door open to changing their minds.
"Given the political demographics of the state, Republican candidates must earn around a quarter of Democratic votes to win statewide office," Kromer said. "Our polling suggests that the Republican primary race is competitive between Cox and Schulz, but that Schulz is in the best position to be competitive against the Democratic nominee in the general election."
Maryland & The Economy
Among other things, the Goucher poll also took Marylanders' temperature on the state's future and economy. In general, the results suggest Republican voters shared more negative views about the state's direction and economic situation compared to their Democrat counterparts.
More than one-third (36%) of Democrats believe the state is heading in the wrong direction, while nearly two-thirds (63%) of Republicans feel that way. Four in 10 (41%) Democrats expressed a negative view of Maryland's economic situation compared to nearly three-quarters (74%) of Republicans.
One-third of Democrats (33%) believe the state's economy will suffer more in the coming year, while nearly two-thirds (64%) of Republicans hold that view. A sizable chunk of both Democrats (29%) and Republicans (42%) believe the rising cost of goods (gas, groceries, housing) have caused them significant financial hardship.
Voters are also asked about statewide issues, ranging from inflation to crime, and whether or not they represented areas of concern to them. Below is a breakdown of the leading "major" concerns among Republicans and Democrats:
- The cost of gasoline: 90%
- Inflation: 90%
- Crime and public safety: 83%
- The quality of K-12 public schools: 62%
- The state tax rate or amount of state taxes: 61%
- Inflation: 72%
- Environmental issues and climate change: 71%
- Crime and public safety: 69%
- The cost of gasoline: 69%
- Lack of affordable housing: 69%
Abortion & Gun Control
Additionally, those polled were also asked about their feelings on abortion (the poll was conducted before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade) and gun control. By and large, the findings were split along party lines.
A majority of Democrats (60%) believe abortion should be legal, no matter the circumstance, compared to 18% of Republicans who feel the same way. More than half of Republicans (57%) believe it should be legal under select circumstances, compared to nearly one-third (28%) of Democrats who hold that view.
Five percent of Democrats and 18% of Republicans surveyed believe it should be illegal regardless of the situation.
While more than 40% of both Democrats and Republicans say a candidate's views on abortion are one of the factors they take into account, 30% of Democrats and 16% of Republicans said they would only vote for a candidate who shares their view on the issue.
When it comes to Maryland's gun laws, nearly three quarters of Democrats believe state laws governing the sale of guns need to be stricter, compared to nearly one-third (28%) of Republicans. Most Democrats (55%) and Republicans (53%) said a candidate's take on gun control informs their decision making.
The poll was conducted over the phone between June 15 and June 19 with 502 registered Democrats and 507 registered Republicans. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
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