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Poll: Slight gain for Ehrlich in neck-and-neck race

The latest Rasmussen Reports survey in the Maryland governor's race is out on Monday, and shows Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in a statistical tie with Democratic incumbent Martin O'Malley. The survey of 500 "likely voters" shows Ehrlich ahead of O'Malley, 47 percent to 46 percent. With a 4.5 percentage point margin of error, the results mean that the two candidates remain in a statistical dead heat.

Rasmussen Reports polling -- conducted through automated telephone questionnaires -- tends to favor Republican candidates, longtime pollsters agree.

According to the Rasmussen analysis:

"As expected, the rematch of the 2006 race has been close from the start and has been getting even closer as time goes on. In February, O’Malley led 49% to 43%, but by April it was a closer 47% to 44%. The two were tied last month with 45% apiece.

Still, Ehrlich faces an uphill struggle to reclaim the office he held from 2003 to 2007 in a state that trends strongly Democratic. But Marylanders, like voters nationwide, remain pessimistic about the economy.

Just 11% of Maryland voters rate the economy as good, while 44% view it as bad. Thirty-five percent (35%) say the economy is getting better; 42% say it’s getting worse. While bleak, these assessments are a bit more positive than the national view."

O’Malley was dismissive of the Rasmussen report when asked about it after a campaign event Monday morning. He called it the latest in “a series of Republican robo-polls.” He predicted such polls would come out every week and that “they’ll never be favorable to us.”

Asked whether he trusts any polls, he repeated one of the classic lines in politics, saying the only one that matters is what voters decide Nov. 2.

-- Julie Bykowicz and David Nitkin

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