Rep. Donna F. Edwards , right has accused Rep. Chris Van Hollen of being open to cutting Social Security benefits . The Democrats are both running for Senate.
Rep. Donna F. Edwards , right has accused Rep. Chris Van Hollen of being open to cutting Social Security benefits . The Democrats are both running for Senate. (Baltimore Sun)

Rep. Chris Van Hollen has a double-digit lead over rival Rep. Donna F. Edwards in a new poll released Thursday in Maryland's competitive Senate race.

Van Hollen, a Montgomery County Democrat, is up 52 percent to 36 percent over Edwards, of Prince George's County, in the Monmouth University Poll. The 16-point lead is the largest any declared candidate has had in the race since it began last year.

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The poll is the third this month to indicate Van Hollen has a lead outside the margin of error. A Public Policy Polling survey released this week had Van Hollen up nine points.

Like other recent polls, Monmouth found sharp divides in race and gender. Van Hollen is leading among white voters (73 percent to 16 percent), while Edwards has the edge with African American voters (62 percent to 26 percent). Van Hollen had a slight edge (46 percent to 41 percent) in Baltimore and the Eastern Shore.

"Van Hollen was pegged as the early favorite in this race, but he has faced a tough challenge from Edwards," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. "His length of service in the House and reputation as a deal maker seems to have helped him build a strong lead."

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