Rasmussen: Hogan trails by 13

I’m breaking into my normal Sunday to bring you the latest polling on this race.

While it’s not precisely what Maryland Republicans are hoping for, there is a little crack as the Hogan electoral door is slightly ajar. Bear in mind that a projected matchup polled by the Washington Post last month had Brown leading 51-33, so his support is retreating while Hogan’s has grown. Perhaps people are realizing what I wrote last month on Brown’s lead:

It’s a counter-intuitive result when you look deeper into the poll’s questions to find that Democrats want the next governor to lead the state in a different direction from Martin O’Malley by a 58-34 margin. Yet they have given Anthony Brown a significant primary lead and would presumably back him in the general election.

Then again, it’s very rare that Maryland votes in its own best interests anyway – they would rather genuflect to an all-encompassing government which distributes crumbs in an arbitrary and capricious manner, depending on the favored status of prospective recipients, than breathe the air of freedom and opportunity for all. But there’s always a first time, and as for the rest some areas of the state still have common sense.

So Hogan has picked up a little bit, but more importantly Brown has been driven under the 50% mark. Conventional wisdom holds that an incumbent under 50 percent is in trouble, so this should be added motivation for conservatives to work for an upset.

Polls begin to make primary more clear

Depending on how you slice the data, the June 24 primary would be a Larry Hogan victory, with the only question being the margin.

The two major Maryland media outlets polled the race earlier this month, and a summary of the results had the same approximate order of Larry Hogan, David Craig, Charles Lollar, and Ron George. But it’s worth also pointing out that the sample size between polls conducted by the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun varied widely.

The Post‘s polling data split into two parts: registered voters and likely voters. And while Hogan had a statistically sizable lead among likely voters, it practically melted away among simply registered voters. Likely voters (with a previous Post poll in February as comparison):

  • Larry Hogan – 35% (up from 22%)
  • David Craig – 19% (up from 13%)
  • Charles Lollar – 13% (up from 6%)
  • Ron George – 5% (stayed in place)

Among them, Larry Hogan finally climbed ahead of Mr. Undecided, who’s now at 20%. Out of simply registered voters, though:

  • Larry Hogan – 23% (up from 17%)
  • David Craig – 18% (up from 13%)
  • Charles Lollar – 12% (up from 10%)
  • Ron George – 8% (up from 4%)

Mr. Undecided still leads there with 25%.

What this tells me is that, for anyone but Larry Hogan to win, the campaigns need to push their GOTV effort among supporters. The Post’s sample sizes are exceedingly small – 228 registered Republicans and just 110 likely ones – leading to very high margins of error of 7.5 and 11 points, respectively. And perhaps it’s not coincidental that both Post-endorsed candidates are leading their respective races.

You may also recall that awhile back Larry Hogan touted a poll where he trailed Anthony Brown by single-digits. Unfortunately, the Post did a projected Hogan vs. Brown matchup and it came out 51-33 Brown. It’s a counter-intuitive result when you look deeper into the poll’s questions to find that Democrats want the next governor to lead the state in a different direction from Martin O’Malley by a 58-34 margin. Yet they have given Anthony Brown a significant primary lead and would presumably back him in the general election.

A few days earlier, the Baltimore Sun came out with their poll, which also showed Larry Hogan out in front. They did a similar poll in February as well.

  • Larry Hogan – 27% (up from 13%)
  • David Craig – 12% (up from 7%)
  • Charles Lollar – 12% (up from 5%)
  • Ron George – 6% (stayed in place)

Again, Mr. Undecided was the clear winner with 37%, and in the Sun‘s case both polls are of likely voters with a much more significant sample size of about 500 voters – it makes the margin of error 4.4%. Except for Ron George, who basically had to disappear from the campaign trail while the General Assembly was in session, every one of the contenders essentially doubled their support in three-plus months.

If you take the most recent polls and combine them using the sample sizes, which gives higher weight to the larger Sun poll, you come up with these figures, which I also compare to a post I did in February:

  • Larry Hogan – 26.9% (14.4%)
  • David Craig – 14.5% (9.3%) (-12.4)
  • Charles Lollar – 12.0% (7.5%) (-14.9)
  • Ron George – 6.3% (5.1%) (-20.3)

If the undecideds fall along that line, the results would be:

  • Larry Hogan – 45.1%
  • David Craig – 24.3%
  • Charles Lollar – 20.1%
  • Ron George – 10.6%

I would say there’s a 50-50 chance that Hogan makes it to 50%, given that some who were thinking of voting for one of the bottom-tier candidates (particularly George) may decide to go with the guy leading the most-touted polls. Because Hogan’s already above the 40% mark I think that’s now a prospect, which may help the MDGOP rally behind Hogan as a nominee. Obviously that support wouldn’t be universal, but getting over 50% would be better than just a plurality for unity’s sake.

So it’s apparent that the message of “change,” no matter how vague and shallow – combined with a lot of money out of the candidate’s pocket and a dose of public financing – seems to appeal with Maryland Republicans who, at this juncture, believe Hogan is the best candidate. In order for second-place contender (based on poll average) David Craig to win, supporters of the Charles Lollar and Ron George campaigns would have to abandon that choice to throw their support behind Craig, and that’s a dubious prospect.

Coming from behind?

Hey, what do you know? After saying my piece yesterday I got an internal poll. (Well, actually Jeff Quinton got it, but I can use it to make my point.) I did receive the presser which alerted me to the fact that Larry Hogan was polled to be within striking distance of Anthony Brown.

One other aspect of the Wilson Perkins Allen internal poll that I thought interesting was the “blind ballot test” question (page 2 here), where an ersatz candidate with Hogan’s background leads a Brown stand-in by a 45-44 margin. Yet, as Quinton points out, we don’t have the crosstabs or other information to correlate with the actual electorate. Using a 2010 turnout model – which may well be overstating Democrat turnout this time around and underestimating the GOP’s – and cross-referencing it to current partisan registration gives a model reflected below:

  • Democrats – 2,055.678 (55.2%) x 54.84% = 1,127,334, or 56.1% of electorate
  • Republicans – 952,320 (25.6%) x 62.45% = 594,724, or 29.6% of electorate
  • unaffiliated/others – 716,830 (19.2%) x ~ 40% = 286,732, or 14.3% of electorate

2,008,790 voters means first to a million wins. But the polling should reflect these numbers on a partisan basis; in fact I would be inclined to add a couple points to the GOP column so we really are punching a little beyond our weight. O’Malley fatigue may keep some Democrats home and motivate the Republicans.

Also remember that the rerun of Bob Ehrlich for a third time may have kept a few GOP stalwarts home, just as the 1998 rematch between Ellen Sauerbrey and Parris Glendening was far less exciting than the 1994 version. 1994 was a wave year for the GOP, and there are some signs 2014 may be the same if the GOP doesn’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as it has done before. Certainly turnout was better on all fronts in 1994: that year 64.93% of Republicans, 60.98% of Democrats, and 46.34% of “declines” turned out. Democratic turnout has slumped 8.37% from its 1998 peak, while Republicans have dropped 4.99% from their 2002 high-water mark in gubernatorial elections. Strictly unaffiliated voters have dropped off 8.35% from their 1994 high point.

For Republicans, turning out at 2002 levels could mean an extra 50,000 votes and perhaps that would swing some local races.

While playing with the numbers is fun for any candidate, there is that minor detail of getting past the GOP primary, and the poll doesn’t indicate whether Hogan remains in the GOP lead. Reputable polls so far have shown that Mr. Undecided is the clear favorite, but it’s impossible for him to win here in Maryland so someone else will have to prevail. It’s likely that whoever wins will not have a majority in the race, so he will have a lot of fences to mend.

But while Hogan and his cohorts have been speaking on the economy – and rightfully so – a close second in importance to many voters is education. This is why what David Craig had to say yesterday at Townhall.com was important. An excerpt:

If (former GM executive turned author) Bob Lutz is a car guy, then you can call me an “education guy.” I spent 34 years in Maryland’s public schools as a teacher and an assistant principal. My career started as our nation was on top, coming off an age when we sent men to the moon and returned them safely to the earth. There were no waivers, no Common Core, no ‘No Child Left Behind,’ and no U.S. Department of Education.

What I had back then, and what Governor Pence needs now, and what my home state of Maryland urgently needs, is to give control to teachers in the classroom. Maryland has rushed head first to adopt every federal program in the last several years including Obamacare, Common Core and EPA stormwater regulations, to name a few. The results are always the same – poor execution, millions of dollars wasted and excessive regulation and taxes.

Here is a simple message to anyone concerned about making education work for students and not education bureaucrats. Let teacher’s (sic) teach, let them do their job.

Nobody will ever capture a child’s imagination in the classroom from Washington D.C. Common Core is bean counters and bureaucrats run amok. They will destroy our education system. No amount of tinkering or re-branding will ever fix it. End it and return control of the classroom to teachers and local school boards.

Craig is perceptive enough to sense the concern that Indiana is adopting Common Core under another name. Yet the question sure to come up in any debate is how we would do without the federal grant money. I can also guarantee Craig will be painted as heartless and out-of-touch if he questions the wisdom of expanding pre-kindergarten, even with its dubious benefits.

Try as some might, education is not a one-size-fits-all commodity. What works well for Dylan in Maryland may not do the trick for Amy in California. And while I’ve had some thoughts in the past about education I still think are worth pursuing, we have to backtrack from where we’re at in order to get pointed in that right direction. The next generation is all we have at stake.

A few convention leftovers

Hey, if Roch Kubatko can do it, I figure I can too. There were a few things I wanted to discuss in the post-convention aftermath.

One storyline was the low number of hospitality suites and rooms there were. Generally there are six to eight separate parties going on during a typical Friday night at the convention, but in this case I think two closed up shop relatively early so the other three became the centers of action. So it seemed to me that there was a crush of people for about an hour or so, but things cleared out pretty quickly after most of the food was consumed.

But I heard a grumble that the reason there were so few suites was the high price the MDGOP was charging. But since they don’t get a cut of any of the room-sized suites, their only recourse is to charge a premium price for the lobby spaces. Gubernatorial candidates seem to be willing to pay, though: last spring it was Blaine Young taking the spacious lobby of Timonium, in November they had Larry Hogan use the main space of the Annapolis Doubletree, and this time Charles Lollar took the Bethesda Doubletree restaurant.

In November I would imagine at least one Chair candidate using a large space, but that event will likely return to the higher number of rooms common to previous conventions as various party office hopefuls try to gain advantage.

Similarly, I don’t recall there being so few vendors. Maybe it was the way they were set up, but it seemed to me that previous conventions had more tables out. Yet as I noted in my main story, there were a number of counties well under-represented – nowhere close to preventing a quorum, but Diana Waterman pointed out in her remarks that a large number had registered on Saturday morning; more than expected. She had a right to be upset, but I think with so many proxies this couldn’t be helped.

Speaking of proxies, they were blamed for Charles Lollar winning the MDGOP Straw Poll. Here’s a press release Lollar put out:

The Lollar-Timmerman team for Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Maryland won a key straw poll today at the conclusion of the Maryland State Republican Party convention in Bethesda.

Today’s straw poll at the Party’s spring convention marks the last gathering of the State GOP leadership before the June 24 gubernatorial primary. Elected representatives from all 23 counties and Baltimore City cast their votes in today’s poll in favor of the Lollar-Timmerman team.

“We are grateful for this tremendous show of support from the elected leadership of the Maryland GOP,” said gubernatorial candidate Charles Lollar, a Charles County businessman and reserve officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“Today’s poll results mirror the sentiment we have been hearing from grass roots supporters across the state,” Lollar added.

Conservative Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild enthusiastically endorsed the Lollar-Timmerman ticket on Friday night. “Everywhere I go, people have told me they are supporting Lollar-Timmerman,” Commissioner Rothschild said. “Those are the only names I hear.”

Both Lollar and Timmerman were attending other events on Saturday, but delegates at the state party convention erupted in cheers, jumping to their feet when they heard the results.

This latest straw poll victory from central committee members from across the state follows on the heels of a victory at the annual convention of the Maryland Federation of Republican Women in Calvert County.

The Lollar-Timmerman team has also won three successive Montgomery County GOP straw polls, including one on March 26 following the only debate where all four GOP gubernatorial candidates showed up.

“Ken and I thank you for your support and we will not let you down as we march to victory in November,” Lollar said.

I don’t recall the “jumping to their feet” part, but it was somewhat of a surprise to hear Lollar won. However, he didn’t mention that it was far from an overwhelming victory – if all the undecideds came down for third-place finisher David Craig, he would have won. The only one who finished poorly was Ron George; coincidentally or not, he was barely visible at this convention. Shelley Aloi was well-meaning and worked hard, but Ron’s table was unstaffed and volunteer sheet almost blank when I saw it Saturday.

We do know, though, that the party faithful who care enough to come to the convention have much more decisiveness about the race than a group of relatively random respondents selected for the St. Mary’s College Maryland Poll. The big winner in that poll was Mr. Undecided – nearly seven of ten hadn’t made up their minds yet. In that poll Larry Hogan leads by a somewhat comfortable margin, but at just 16 percent of the vote – a total of 43 votes out of 270, which wasn’t much larger than the room full of party activists.

Put another way, even Charles Lollar or Ron George has to convince just 34 more voters out of that remaining sample than Larry Hogan does to prevail. If either can start raising money, it’s doable.

On another subject, perhaps Don Murphy was right when he remarked that local candidates should have been out knocking on doors rather than at the convention. There were a handful of such candidates there who were pressed into service as Central Committee members or proxies, but I saw few General Assembly members about Bethesda over the weekend. Maybe they showed for the dinner, but they weren’t even there Friday night for schmoozing so they were likely following Murphy’s advice.

We also found out the next convention will be December 5-6 at Turf Valley, the site of our Fall 2012 convention/wake. Let’s hope for Maryland’s sake history doesn’t repeat itself.

2014 Maryland GOP Spring Convention in pictures and text (part 2)

In case you missed part 1, which dealt with Friday night, you can catch up here.

I was in bed reasonably early for a convention, in part because there weren’t a whole lot of hospitality suites to be found and in part because I wanted to cover breakfast with this immediately recognizable guy.

The former GOP national chair is always a welcome guest at MDGOP proceedings, and as a breakfast speaker he set a good mood for the day by predicting “we’re going to be back in our winning ways this year.”

But his message went back a few years, to when Michael took over the national party, which had become too “comfortable and cozy.” He saw his mission as one “to rebrand a party which had become moribund,” one where the gap between rhetoric and principles had become so large it snapped. “I’m so sick and tired of people blaming our principles for their failure to lead,” said Michael. “What we believe in is time-honored and true.”

Similarly, Steele noted that the state party had gone through its share of “definitional moments” and was ready to do so again. We needed to avoid being a party defined by what we are against and not what we are for, as we’ve “often found ourselves at odds with the very people that we want to represent.” We need to “talk about freedom but connect it to life.”

Taking that to a more local level, he noted that people are expecting leadership from the Central Committee members in the effort to “turn the elephant.”

“We’re not looking back, we’re looking forward,” said Michael. “Revolutionizing the (Maryland Republican) Party is our number one priority.” People are hungry for authenticity, leadership, and vision, he added. He got a token of our appreciation, too.

The wine is a Maryland red wine from Linganore called Black Raven. Diana thought it was a “providence” that she was thinking about how to thank our speakers as she drove by the winery. I had a shot of the bottle but, alas, I was too close and it came out way too bleached out. After breakfast, I had to gather my things and check out as well as make one other stop.

Instead of having a Friday evening suite, Larry chose to host a breakfast suite with Chick-fil-A items. Of course, all I was hungry for was information, so I spoke to Hogan about his experience on the Eastern Shore with our farmers. I found he has a fairly good idea about what they stand to lose should phosphorus regulations go through, so that was a plus. And I added to my weekend collection, a shot which included Larry’s wife Yumi.

It’s a bit askew because I was looking at two cameras at once. So I grabbed a Hogan-labeled bottle of water as I walked out and headed back down. With the stops, I missed much of what – from the part I did hear – was an interesting panel discussion by conservative black Maryland Republicans.

After that finished, I checked out some of the displays in the lobby. This one was new that morning.

As I understood it, my Worcester County cohort was selling “Benghazi bracelets,” which will be gray and black. Obviously that’s still on the minds of many people to whom it does make a difference. I also spied a more modest display that morning from the Lollar team.

I was remiss in not getting a photo of Ron George’s table, although I think it’s visible in the lobby photo in part 1. Of the four candidates, though, Ron had the least presence with just the table. Craig had a table and suite, as did Lollar, while Hogan had his breakfast suite, a folder at each table place, and hallways festooned with these.

In due course, you’ll understand why I thought it was important to make that comparison. Once that mini-tour was complete and I was checked out, it was time to begin the convention proper.

The first report was a legislative report from Delegate Gail Bates, who’s now running to become a Senator. She pointed out we don’t get our way much, but did achieve some good things: recoupling the estate tax to federal law, pieces of election reform – particularly on voter rolls – and straightening out the pit bull mess to place responsibility on dog owners regardless of breed. These, however, were outweighed by a litany of bad: a budget which continues a pattern of overspending revenues, increasing the minimum wage despite outcry from small business, decriminalization of marijuana, the “bathroom bill”, and the health exchange, said Bates.

We next received the bad news of the treasurer’s report from Executive Director Joe Cluster. The one positive note was that we were “right on course to meet our goals this year” after a slow start. This wasn’t her convention podium, but I wanted to show a shot of Party Chair Diana Waterman to signify her Chairman’s report.

She had one key announcement:

She also recounted recent events like the Reagan Ball and Johns Hopkins gubernatorial forum, but her message stressed the needs for turnout on Election Day and unity after the primary.

In an extension of the forum he moderated, Tony Campbell decried the lack of credibility the party had built in the 16 years he had been involved, and stressed that we needed to find issues that people connected with. This election was the combination of time and opportunity we had been waiting for, though.

Brian Griffiths gave a brief Young Republican report mainly focused on upcoming events, while the College Republicans gave no report because their incoming president, Christine McEvoy of Johns Hopkins, was studying for exams. Thus, the morning continued with National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose and her visual aids.

While Ambrose talked briefly about what the national party is doing, her focus has been on grassroots work in Maryland, particularly the Super Saturday program. Next Saturday, May 3rd, that program comes to Ocean City just in time for Springfest. A second one is in the works for June 21 in Montgomery County. Further ones for the fall will be determined over the summer, as there is an application process. She also stressed that every county should be looking into an absentee ballot program, particularly the larger ones.

But I thought this slide of upcoming events was cool.

It’s not just on the Eastern Shore, though, it’s right here in Salisbury. Do we need a better excuse to have a Super Saturday for Wicomico County? After all, the good Lt. Col. West shouldn’t arrive until the afternoon.

Louis Pope piled on to what Ambrose said as he gave his National Committeeman report, but also believed the June primary was an advantage to Central Committee members – those who win have a four-month period to learn the ropes, while the returning/retiring members could mentor the newbies.

Turning to the 2014 election, Pope quipped, “if you liked 2010, you’ll really like 2014.” The national GOP’s goal was to take the Senate, and with the recent Florida special election showing “it’s all about turnout,” coupled with the McCutcheon decision by the Supreme Court, the potential was there for a great year.

On a state level, Pope believed Wisconsin is a “model” for us – similar size, and a state controlled by Democrats until the last cycle. It all comes down to turning out Republicans.

Finally, we were through most of the reports, and we found out we had a quorum of 236 of 303 members present. But it was troubling that several counties were well short of their allocation. We’re used to this from Baltimore City, which, try as they might, has a hard time getting people to serve. But there were over half the members absent from Allegany, Calvert, Caroline, Dorchester, and Talbot counties as well. Granted, it was the last convention of the term and not much was on the docket but that’s still a concern to me.

The last item we dealt with before lunch was a resolution condemning the introduction of House Bill 1513, sponsored by both the Harford and Baltimore County Central Committees. Thanks to a parliamentary maneuver, the resolution passed by unanimous consent in a voice vote.

We were actually well ahead of schedule, even with lunch, so Diana Waterman added two speakers to the agenda: Attorney General candidate Jeffrey Pritzker and Comptroller hopeful Bill Campbell.

Pritzker was blunt: “Maryland is in trouble.” He reminded us he was the first to call for a special prosecutor in the health exchange debacle – a position Doug Gansler would prefer to do away with. “The people need a lawyer,” Jeff said. He promised to create a task force to address the laws, seeking to prune away the unnecessary and redundant.

Campbell made the case that we needed to go to places where we were uncomfortable in order to win. For example, he addressed the Maryland State Education Association – not expecting their endorsement, but to make his case nonetheless. Reportedly he got 40% of the teachers’ votes, which Bill considered to be very good impact.

We also had the Executive Director’s report from Joe Cluster, who told us to focus on four numbers: 6, 19, 48, and 16. These weren’t for Powerball, they were 6 of 10 County Executive seats, 19 of 24 county councils or commissions, 48 Delegates, and 16 Senators. “It would make us relevant in this state” if we achieved all these milestones, said Cluster. Joe continued by pointing out both Barack Obama and Martin O’Malley had approval numbers under 50 percent. “People are tired of what they’ve done to taxpayers,” Cluster said. “I don’t see any incumbent Republican losing.”

He also announced there were plans for Victory Centers in Towson for District 42, and in the District 38 area – Salisbury is in District 38, as is Ocean City. We then got to new business.

The Tweet tells you the result, but how we got there was interesting. I was one of perhaps four who spoke in favor of moving it to the floor, but by the crowd reaction to myself and other speakers I knew the effort was doomed. By the time the roll call got to Baltimore County (only fourth in) the result was obvious: just Caroline County (and its one representative), Dorchester, Howard, Kent, and Queen Anne’s favored it (Wicomico was 6-3 against) and the motion died by a weighted vote of 385-91. (In terms of bodies, it was 192-42, with one abstention.) Ten counties were unanimously against it. I thought it would get between 1/3 and 1/2 of the vote, so less than 20% was shockingly low.

But it is typical of the party’s “we’ve always done it this way” mindset.

Before adjourning, we heard yet another plea for unity and turnout from Diana Waterman, who was stalling a little bit because there was a full hour before the afternoon seminars were scheduled. But we finally received the results of the straw poll conducted at the convention.

Brian Griffiths, a confirmed Hogan supporter, came over to Jackie Wellfonder and I and huffily said, “that’s the last thing (Lollar’s) going to win.” He chalked up the loss to proxies who were in the Lollar camp.

Here are the actual vote numbers:

  • Lollar – 68 votes (29.8%)
  • Hogan – 62 votes (27.2%)
  • Craig – 60 votes (26.3%)
  • George – 29 votes (12.7%)
  • undecided – 9 votes (3.9%)

I remember looking quickly at Wicomico’s ballots before I handed them over and we split among the four candidates. I think it was 3 Hogan, 3 Craig, 2 Lollar, and 1 George.

But look at what was put into the convention by the candidates. Granted, Charles Lollar had a large and very visible party and David Craig had a lively suite of his own. All but Larry Hogan had lobby tables, with Ron George having very little other presence. I didn’t even see him there, although I did see Shelley Aloi frequently making the rounds.

Yet Larry Hogan spent a lot of money for sponsoring the programs, the folders at each seat, the breakfast suite, and the multitude of signs only to come in second by just two votes. (I have it on good authority that one Hogan supporter I know may be switching to Craig – had that person came to that conclusion a little sooner, there would have been a second-place tie.) I would have expected Hogan to get 35 or 40 percent based on the hype.

Unfortunately, my traveling companion needed to get back to Salisbury so I couldn’t stay for the seminars. It never fails – had we started at lunchtime, we would have argued the bylaws change clear through dinner. But out of the seventeen conventions I’ve now attended, this was one of the more quiet and non-controversial. I guess we’re fairly united despite the straw poll vote.

It was definitely time to go home and get to work.

No foolin’ – really?

I know a fair number of people will consider this a cheap shot, but is this something a legitimate candidate would cite?

As I pointed out yesterday, I get a lot of e-mail from candidates asking me for money. But in building his case for his campaign, Larry Hogan made the following statement:

My campaign for Governor has a commanding lead in the Republican primary. In fact, a recent poll shows that we garner more support than all the other candidates combined, with over 50 percent of voters supporting us. We can win this race!

Really? You’re citing the Red Maryland poll, which even the authors admit isn’t scientific and is backed by a website which endorsed you before you even formally entered the race? How low of information voters do you think you’ll reach?

Granted, I’ve made news before from a Larry Hogan poll of my own but at least at the time I fessed up to the fact it wasn’t a scientific poll.

And maybe it’s not Larry’s fault, since the e-mail itself traces back to a firm called SalientMG. But it is a little deceptive to say you already have over 50 percent primary support when no reputable poll puts you over 20 percent at the moment.

In many respects Hogan’s statement is like bragging about winning a straw poll, which a fellow candidate has done on a couple occasions only to be mocked for doing so. Then again, we can be far more certain those running the straw polls probably weren’t in the tank for the winner. The Red Maryland poll wasn’t quite like the Crimean referendum, but it was sort of close.

I’ll be more interested to see the fundraising reports in a couple weeks. If Larry Hogan has raised over 50% of the Republican money then maybe I’ll see him as a more legitimate front runner – right now I think it’s still anyone’s race. Some have a lot more work to do than others, but we still have almost three months.

WaPo poll: Hogan lead cut to 4

February 19, 2014 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, Polling · Comments Off 

Just a couple days after its Baltimore competitor unveiled an OpinionWorks poll which showed Larry Hogan with a six-point lead over David Craig and the others in the quest for the Republcan nomination for governor, the Washington Post put out its own survey which captured the views of 290 randomly selected GOP voters and leaners. In their survey, undecided was again the clear winner with 56%, with Hogan at 17%, David Craig at 13%, Charles Lollar in third at 10%, and Ron George pulling 5%. As I did the other day, extrapolating results leaves me with this breakdown:

  • Larry Hogan – 38%
  • David Craig – 29%
  • Charles Lollar – 22%
  • Ron George – 11%

The survey, though, has a large margin of error of 7% for Republicans, compared to 5.5% for Democrats. On their side, Anthony Brown has a 19-point lead over Doug Gansler, who in turn leads Heather Mizeur by seven points. The survey was conducted Thursday through Sunday.

Unlike the Sun poll, there are a wide variety of crosstabs available in the WaPo survey. Most of them favor Hogan, but the independents surveyed backed Craig by a 16-14 margin. David also scored well with Baltimore-area voters and with college graduates, both categories where he ran even with Hogan.

Another interesting facet of this poll was favorability ratings for each candidate. I’ll go from highest among all candidates to the lowest.

  • Anthomy Brown – 30% (16% unfavorable, +14)
  • Doug Gansler – 22% (17% unfavorable, +5)
  • Larry Hogan – 15% (8% unfavorable, +7)
  • Heather Mizeur – 13% (9% unfavorable, +4)
  • David Craig – 11% (10% unfavorable, +1)
  • Ron George – 8% (7% unfavorable, +1)
  • Charles Lollar – 6% (9% unfavorable, -3)

So it appears Hogan’s very non-specific campaign has attracted notice without driving up unfavorables. Note this was done before David Craig put out a program to eventually phase out the state’s income tax.

Making a RealClearPolitics-style average of the results so far, we get the following on the GOP side:

  1. Larry Hogan – 14.4%
  2. David Craig – 9.3% (-5.1)
  3. Charles Lollar – 7.5% (-6.9)
  4. Ron George – 5.1% (-9.3)

Doing the same for Democrats:

  1. Anthony Brown – 34.5%
  2. Doug Gansler – 14.4% (-20.1)
  3. Heather Mizeur – 9.1% (-25.4)

While it appears that George is slipping just beyond the margin of error, the other two are still within striking distance. On the Democratic side, it’s Anthony Brown’s race to lose. Note that the foibles of Maryland’s health exchange aren’t affecting Brown among the base.

Larry Hogan is spinning this, using an unreleased “internal poll” to note:

(I)nternal polling by a respected national pollster gives Hogan an excellent chance to win in November. Hogan has a 30% better chance of beating Brown than Gansler has, and the polling also shows Hogan has a 36% better chance of winning than Bob Ehrlich had when he was elected governor in 2002.

Obviously without context it sounds great, but one has to ask if Brown would be as weak of a candidate as Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was in 2002.

There is generally one more poll which comes out around this time of year, but I have no word on whether a new Maryland Poll will come from Gonzales Research anytime soon. Back in October, Brown had a 41-21 advantage over Doug Gansler, with 5% preferring Heather Mizeur.

Hogan leads in first inning

At last we have a scientific poll to determine who is the top dog among Republican voters, and the big winner is…undecided.

I know that belies my headline, but an OpinionWorks poll for the Baltimore Sun found 68% of Republican voters hadn’t made their mind up yet. Of those expressing a preference, the poll looks like this:

  • Larry Hogan – 13%
  • David Craig – 7%
  • Ron George – 6%
  • Charles Lollar – 5%

Doing some quick math and extrapolating the numbers, the primary would come out like this:

  • Larry Hogan – 42%
  • David Craig – 23%
  • Ron George – 19%
  • Charles Lollar – 16%

In other words, I would be pretty close to my 60 percent statement from the other night.

According to the Sun, the poll was taken from 1,199 likely Maryland voters over last week (Saturday through Wednesday.) 499 of them were likely Republican primary voters, with 500 likely Democratic primary voters backing Anthony Brown by a significant 21 point margin over Doug Gansler, with Heather Mizeur just 4 points back from Gansler. (40% are still undecided, though.) Margin of error on both polls is 4.4 points, so in actual terms all four GOP candidates are within the margin of error at this point.

OpinionWorks is the Sun‘s resident pollster, and they recently did a poll suggesting an additional $1 per pack tobacco tax would be acceptable to state voters. (They didn’t call me, or the “no” would have been larger.) Based on their body of work, they would seem to be a more left-leaning pollster, sort of in the same vein as Public Policy Polling. At this point, though, there’s no real reason to suspect they would have their finger on the scale of the Republican race.

Of course, we didn’t get any direct polling of possible matchups, such as Brown vs. Hogan, which is unfortunate because there’s no way to find out whether Larry’s more or less populist, anti-establishment message is selling. He’s been good at criticizing the current lieutenant governor for both actions and inaction, but Hogan hasn’t completely spelled out an agenda on key issues like education and the environment. Does he tack to the center and risk alienating a large portion of his base like his former employer did?

There’s also the aspect of name recognition. Back in November I wrote about a Goucher College poll measuring how well-known the various candidates were. It still seems to track well, given that the Democrats were more well-known at the time and now have far fewer undecided voters. Indeed, a current 28-point difference in undecideds matches up well with November’s 31.7 point name recognition gap between Anthony Brown and David Craig. (Larry Hogan was not part of the November poll.) Once people begin to pay attention to who the players are, the polls will start moving up for the various candidates.

My last observation is wondering whether Hogan’s success is akin to a “convention bump” because he’s announced so recently. A poll taken in March or April will help to determine this. I think Larry is indeed the leading contender, but I don’t think he’s really getting nearly twice as many votes as any of the others in the field – this is why I compared the results to giving up a 3-run homer in the top of the first. As people begin to get to know Larry Hogan on the campaign trail, he will either break the game open or allow the opposition to catch up.

The push for polls

On several occasions I’ve bemoaned the fact there are no polls in the Republican race, aside perhaps from internal polls not released to the public. It has given somewhat outsized importance to website-based polls such as the Red Maryland poll or the Red White Blue poll, neither of which are scientific. The same goes for a poll sponsored by the Gazette newspaper, which as I write this has Larry Hogan with a slight lead over Charles Lollar, with David Craig and Ron George trailing significantly; on the other hand, George has won the last two Red Maryland polls. The proof that the internet-based polling may be overblown is the amount of cajoling the candidates (or supporters) have done to solicit support, particularly in the Gazette poll since it’s a “reputable” news site.

  • David Craig on Facebook Monday: “Please take a moment to show your support by casting your vote for me in this online poll.”
  • Ron George on Facebook Monday: “Please take a moment to vote in today’s Capital Gazette online poll, ‘If the Republican primary were today, who would you vote for as the nominee for governor?’”
  • Larry Hogan on Facebook Monday (via Change Maryland): “First online poll since our Harvest Party with Change Maryland‘s founder and Chairman Larry Hogan in it. Please click on this link to cast your votes.”
  • Charles Lollar on Facebook Tuesday: “Good Morning Lollar Supporters! We are only a few points away from taking 1st place in this poll. Please vote for Chares Lollar, the only candidate that can win in the General Election. Vote from your computer, your work computer, your phone. Together WE can do this!”

That’s just one of several appeals, mainly from the Lollar and Hogan camps. But Larry is going one better, based on a newsletter I received yesterday:

Earn points by helping us Change Maryland by sharing our posts, by getting your friends involved, and by engaging in the conversation. Use your Change Maryland points towards getting Change Maryland stickers, T-shirts, hats and awesome polos!

I was thinking I already have the sticker, and as much as I’ve pimped the group over two years I could qualify for being clad head to toe. The group continues to add followers and may have 70,000 before the week is out. But the political world isn’t based on Facebook likes or easily-manipulated internet polls; the question is how real voters will really react when the ballots are cast in June.

As I have often pointed out, a poll such as the Red Maryland poll or Gazette poll simply is a basis of knowing how many people are in the devoted 1% of followers – consider that if you believed a number of internet polls, we would be talking about President Ron Paul right now. But in real life he rarely cracked double digits in any primary.

Regardless, this all means the gubernatorial race isn’t taking much of a holiday break.

Update: Steve Crim of Change Maryland alerted me to the fact this Change Maryland point promotion has been underway since June – I already have 116 points!

A course to work on

November 7, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, Polling · Comments Off 

Thanks to my reading of the other side – namely the Maryland Juice website – I was alerted to a poll conducted recently. It’s a poll which shows that we as a movement and party have some work to do.

I’m going to reserve comment on the Goucher College survey insofar as the questions on minimum wage and pensions, the results of which gave me the sick sensation that people in this state really don’t understand economics, and focus on the key question of name recognition. Obviously I knew every name on this list but it turns out most of Maryland is familiar with few of the people running for governor. In order of name recognition, the percentages of people who have heard of these candidates are as follows:

  • Anthony Brown – 62.3%
  • Doug Gansler – 57.9%
  • Dutch Ruppersberger – 49.1%
  • David Craig – 30.6%
  • Charles Lollar – 22.7%
  • Ron George – 21.6%
  • Heather Mizeur – 13.1%

Now this is a strict name recognition poll, and not a favorable/unfavorable one. But as you can see all of the GOP hopefuls trail all but one of the Democrats, which presents a problem but also an opportunity.

As we saw in the Virginia gubernatorial race, Ken Cuccinelli lost because he was defined by his opponent as hostile on social issues. Not only was the press generally favorable to Terry McAuliffe, he had a lot more money to spend in the latter days of the campaign to pour onto the thick layer of mud which had been slung for several months from both sides.

So an obvious goal of all candidates is to bring that name recognition number up, but also do it in such a way to present a positive image. With the rash of bad news Doug Gansler has endured, surely his recognition is up – but just as certainly his negatives are as well. The same can become true of Anthony Brown, since in the same Goucher Poll his boss Martin O’Malley only had a 41-40 favorable vs. unfavorable ratio, with strong unfavorables running 11.3 points ahead of strong favorables (e.g. a -11.3, which echoes the -15.1 O’Malley had in the recent Maryland Poll). Those two are as peas in a pod to me.

Besides, the factor Marylanders are most looking for in their next governor is trustworthiness. I don’t trust any of the Democrats any farther than I can throw them – the closest is Mizeur, who makes no bones about being liberal.

If we can alert as many Marylanders as possible to our candidates with good and truthful words – accentuate the positive – it makes their job easier. Time to get to work.

The perception of reality

When you think about it, the number of people represented by the Red Maryland poll is generally about 1/10 of 1 percent of the potential Republican electorate in the state. So why do I see e-mails and Facebook messages from the three candidates encouraging me to vote in their poll?

Well, before I answer that question, let me state that as a blogger I understand the reason behind the poll. Truth be told, it’s not necessarily to provide an accurate barometer of the race – it’s to bring eyes and ears to the Red Maryland blog and network, respectively. It’s the reason I’ve done polls, and often I see a bump in the numbers if I put up an interesting horserace. It might even attract a little notice for me outside the blogosphere.

But Lord knows none of us have the scratch to come up with a scientific method of gauging the true snapshot of the electorate – not that it can’t get blown out of the water by potential events anyway – so we do the next best thing. If they have 500 or 600 responses to their poll, well, that means 500 or 600 people read their website over the period in question. (Obviously some read the site without responding to the poll, so in reality they have hundreds more who stop by during the week they have it up.) Same goes for the radio show where the results are revealed. I may be a dumb country hick from the Black Swamp of northwest Ohio, but I can figure out that much about marketing.

So let’s take this e-mail Ron George sent out as one example:

The November Red Maryland Poll is open for the next two days, so please cast your vote for Ron George for Governor. With your help, Ron came in 1st place in the October Poll, and we look forward to winning back to back months.

Not to be outdone, David Craig mentioned via Facebook:

Maryland deserves a leadership team with vast experience and a real record of accomplishments. Please take a moment to show your support for that team by voting for “David Craig” in this month’s Red Maryland Poll.

I haven’t seen anything from Charles Lollar yet, but he and the Red Maryland crew probably aren’t the best of pals right now anyway. Last month he came in just south of “undecided” but he had otherwise polled relatively well there. (Along with “undecided” all three polled in a narrow range between 20 and 30 percent.)

Of course, these aren’t scientific polls so we have no clue how these candidates would do with a “real” electorate. I guess the real value of the poll – as I have said on occasions before, which holds true in this case as well – lies in the poll providing a gauge of passionate supporters. So, at least in October, Ron George had the largest number of passionate supporters, although no one was really short on them overall. Insofar as that polling has shown, it’s been a solid three-way race throughout.

Winning an internet poll may not give you a boost in the real polls but it provides some good press for the winning campaign, so there is that.

Now, speaking of polls, for the fourth time in five years I’ve found myself nominated for a Mobbie Award. (Actually, two.)

I harbor no illusions of winning an award, seeing that it’s essentially a popularity contest and my website is probably not nearly as well-read as some of the others nominated. Let’s face it: a blog discussing Ravens football is going to cream mine in readership and probably voting as well. Even among the nominees in the News Blog and Political Blog categories, I’m sure other contenders have higher traffic (although I enjoyed a somewhat better than average week last week, with nice consistency. Thanks, folks.)

Knowing that, I don’t figure on winning the Reader’s Choice Award. But I don’t want to finish last, either. So if you feel inclined to do so, I would appreciate the support. If you can’t bring yourself to support me, vote for Raging Against the Rhetoric (Jackie Wellfonder’s site) because I nominated her in the political category.

Someone might get the perception I have a halfway-decent website if I happen to win, and who knows? It may attract a couple dozen advertisers and other major sponsors. You can beat the rush, though, and get in on the ground floor – just go here for details.

The first real poll

Yesterday the latest Maryland Poll from Gonzales Research came out (h/t Maryland Reporter), and it suggests that we have a long way to go in educating the voters of this state about the real facts at hand. But there are a few encouraging signs, I suppose.

In the nine months since a similar sampling in January, we can now determine that Barack Obama’s job approval has gone down six points in the topline, from 64% to 58%. But the difference between “strongly approve” and “strongly disapprove” has plummeted in that span: it was +19.4 in January but is now just +6.7. A 13-point swing in that demographic suggests the national economic situation of an ongoing sluggish “recovery” is taking its toll.

By the same token, the 54% job approval Martin O’Malley enjoyed in January was a mirage, too. O’Malley now finds himself in a statistical dead heat, with 48% approval and disapproval in the October poll. But that difference between “strongly approve’ and “strongly disapprove” has once again moved more than the six-point decline on the topline, going from a +0.2 in January to a (-15.1) now. That’s an even more pronounced 15-point swing not shown by a 6 point drop in the headlines. Tellingly, nearly 3 of 10 Democrats now disapprove of O’Malley.

But that doesn’t seem to reflect on Anthony Brown, who leads the first non-campaign poll by a fairly similar margin to the Garin-Hart-Yang poll released by Brown’s campaign last month. The Maryland Poll has Anthony Brown/Ken Ulman at 41%, Doug Gansler/Jolene Ivey at 21%, and Heather Mizeur at 5%. (Maybe she can have Wayne Gilchrest as a running mate. As an aside, Mizeur also got the endorsement of Salisbury City Council member Laura Mitchell.)

Unfortunately, the numbers trend the wrong way on some key issues. While 49% of Marylanders polled favored the death penalty and 44% opposed it in January, those numbers are now reversed in that 49% favor the law rescinding it and 44% said no. Then again, its support was rather soft all along because it had a strong approve/strong disapprove ratio of (-3.2) in January while the repeal now has a +5.5 ratio. In part, this is probably because of the state’s reluctance to use the death penalty and the over-sensationalized Kirk Bloodsworth case. However, I would wager that if you put a name and a victim to a case (e.g. Thomas Leggs and Sarah Foxwell) the support for rescinding the death penalty repeal declines drastically. (In that case, Leggs pled guilty to avoid the death penalty, while the family agreed because of the probability of endless appeals.)

Meanwhile, those who responded to the poll must have believed the onerous gun laws passed by Martin O’Malley and Democrats would actually curb crime. When asked in January, support for an assault weapons ban in the immediate wake of Sandy Hook was 58-40 (with a +17.5 intensity of strongly support/strongly oppose), while background checks passed muster by an 88-11 figure overall. But the gun law as passed maintained its 58-40 support (with only a slightly lower +16.7 intensity.) That, my friends, is a sadly bamboozled and gullible public.

Yet when it comes to the pocketbook, people get it. When asked whether a 10 cent per gallon gasoline tax was acceptable in January, just 26% favored in with 73% opposed. The intensity of opposition was just as stiff, with a factor of (-50.8) strong approve/strong disapprove.

So now that the reality of a 21 cent per gallon increase spread out over three years has smacked Free Staters in the pocketbook, they hate it even more. 22 percent approve of the tax hike, while 76 percent oppose it. Intensity remains as strong, at a factor of (-50.7). Most telling to me is that the Democrats don’t tout it as a success.

Knowing that, where do we go from here? It appears to me that the emotional appeals of Democrats have worked on the above non-fiscal issues because those polled are probably not affected – the chances are small that someone knows a person who’s been heinously murdered by someone who would receive the death penalty, and for those who do too many are blaming the tool used for the victim’s demise.

I can sit and stare at a gun with a 30-round magazine all day, but as long as I don’t pick up the weapon and make the physical motion to fire it, the gun is inert and harmless. Thousands of Marylanders have access to a gun, most have never fired it outside the confines of a closed gun range. Those who use the tool of a handgun otherwise are more often than not breaking enough laws already that the so-called Firearm Safety Act of 2013 won’t prevent them from carrying out their mayhem. However, another person with a weapon just might.

Someone out there probably collects the rare news stories of crimes prevented by the presence of a gun, but the narrative of “if it bleeds, it leads” plays into the hands of those who would usurp our Second Amendment rights. Yet if the hapless victim of random violence had his or her own weapon, things may have played out differently. Instead, the state is placing a burden on those who simply wish to defend themselves, and I thought government was supposed to be about empowerment. That’s what liberals tell me, anyway.

Liberals like Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, and Heather Mizeur.

And by the way, where is the Republican poll? I think the Gonzales pollsters have fallen into the same “one-party state” trap Doug Gansler did. I’d like to see something more scientific than a blog poll on that race.

**********

Since I didn’t get a GO Friday feature this week, I added my own two cents as I told you I would. This place doesn’t go dark.

But if you want to be considered for GO Friday next week, just let me know.

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