Hillary Clinton has a significant lead in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in Maryland, underscoring her strength with African-American voters and women, a new poll for The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore has found.
The former secretary of state has a vast, 33-point advantage over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders among likely Democratic primary voters. Political observers said that margin makes it unlikely Sanders will be able to repeat the kind of upset he managed in Michigan when Marylanders go to the polls April 26.
"She's in a really strong position, almost across the board," said Steve Raabe, president of OpinionWorks, the Annapolis-based firm that conducted the poll.
African-American turnout is a key factor in Maryland primary elections. About 40 percent of Maryland's Democratic primary turnout in 2008 was African-American, and the poll assumes black voters will make up about 39 percent of the electorate — a number that could be higher than normal this year because of a competitive mayoral race in Baltimore.
Clinton, who lost to Barack Obama in Maryland in 2008 by nearly 25 points, has held wide leads in every poll conducted in the state so far this election cycle. She is winning with white and black voters, men and women, and every age group — including the Millennials who have flocked to Sanders' populist message in other parts of the country.
The poll, which was conducted March 4 to March 8, has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
"We're not going to be that much different than Georgia," John T. Willis, a professor of government and public policy at the University of Baltimore, said of the African- American participation in the primary. "The real issue on the Democratic side is maintaining turnout both for the primary election and for the general election."
Delores Lashley, a 70-year-old Hanover woman, said she believes Clinton is well positioned to continue the policies pursued by Obama, who remains widely popular in Maryland. Lashley speculated that Sanders has done better with some voters because he doesn't have "the baggage" that came with the earlier Clinton White House.
But she nevertheless feels Clinton is the most qualified candidate.
"Look at her track record. I believe with Hillary the middle class will prosper again," Lashley said. "I believe she has the wherewithal, the charisma, the brains and the moxie to know how to do it, and how do it right."
About the poll
Results are based on a survey of 400 likely Maryland Democratic primary voters. The poll was done by OpinionWorks of Annapolis for The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore's College of Public Affairs and Schaefer Center for Public Policy. The survey was conducted by telephone, both land-based and cellular, by trained interviewers from March 4 to March 8. Voters were randomly selected for interviews from a voter file provided by the State Board of Elections. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.