One of the first independent polls of the three-way 2014 race for the Democratic nomination for governor shows Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown leading by a 2-to-1 margin over Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler.
The Gonzalez poll released Wednesday shows Brown with 41 percent of the vote to Gansler's 21 percent. A third candidate in the contest, Del. Heather R. Mizeur of Montgomery County, stood at 5 percent with 33 percent undecided.
In part, the results reflect the varying name recognition of the three candidates. Only 18 percent of likely primary voters did not recognize Brown's name, compared with 37 percent for Gansler and 79 percent for Mizeur.
The poll also pointed to a drop in the approval rating of Gov. Martin O'Malley, Brown's chief backer. It found that the governor, who enjoyed a 54-41 percent margin on the positive side in January, had slipped to even, with 48 percent approving and 48 percent disapproving.
O'Malley retained strong support among Democrats, who will choose the nominee to succeed him. They still approved of his performance by a 67-29 percent margin.
Gonzalez said the drop in O'Malley's popularity could reflect some spending of capital during this year's legislative session. It found that while voters approved of his gun control legislation by a strong margin, they agreed with the O'Malley-sponsored repeal of the death penalty by only a narrow margin and overwhelmingly oppose his decision to raise the gas tax.
Brown's strength is centered among his fellow African-American voters, who support him over Gansler by 56-12 percent. White voters split almost evenly.
The lieutenant governor leads in both the Baltimore and Washington regions, as well as the rest of the state. While his margin in Baltimore, is still 2-1 over Gansler, Brown still pulls only 35 percent of the vote. The poll found that 44 percent of Baltimore voters are undecided, more than twice the percentage in the Washington suburbs.
According to Gonzales, the margin of error on the Oct. 1-14 poll's sample of 403 Democratic primary voters is 5 percent. The margin for the overall survey of 819 likely voters is 3.5 percent.
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