A respected group of political analysts on Friday declared Maryland's race for governor a "toss up."
The Cook Political Report said the contest between Democrat Anthony G. Brown and Republican Larry Hogan was too close to predict who would win, although they gave Brown a "slight advantage" in deep blue Maryland.
Those national analysts now twice revised the Democrats' hold on the governor's mansion, moving the race first from the "solid Democratic" category to "leaning Democratic," and now to "a toss up."
"Neither side thought they would be spending seven figures here, particularly this late in the race," the report said. "Democrats believe that they caught Hogan's surge, and have had enough time to define their own candidate. We tend to agree and believe that Brown enjoys a slight advantage, but polling and the barrage of television ads from both sides suggest that this belongs in Toss Up."
With just four days until Election Day, Brown and Hogan have been barnstorming the state trying to turn out apathetic voters in a midterm election that has not created much enthusiasm.
Early voting returns show Democrats have so far been more effective at getting voters to the polls. More than two times as many Democrats than Republicans cast ballots during the eight-day period that ended Thursday. Democrats also outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1 in Maryland.
Brown's campaign declined to comment on the new Cook Political Report ranking.
The Republican Governors Association blasted the new ranking out on email. Like their Democratic counterparts, the RGA has been pouring cash into the race and dispatching high-profile surrogates to the state.
N.J. Gov. Chris Christie will make his fourth appearance in Maryland on Sunday for a rally.
First Lady Michelle Obama will host a rally Monday night in Baltimore. President Barack Obama, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton have also campaigned in Maryland on Brown's behalf.
Brown, the lieutenant governor, holds a modest, single-digit lead over Hogan in most public polls. The Baltimore Sun's poll earlier this month gave Brown a 7-point advantage.
Hogan, a businessman from Anne Arundel County, has been riding a wave of discontent with the sluggish economic recovery and focused his campaign on pocketbook issues.
Brown has been campaigning on the record of the O'Malley-Brown administration and his own proposals to eventually expand pre-kindergarten to all 4-year-olds. But as term-limited Gov. Martin O'Malley enters the final months of his second term, his approval rating among all voters has been dropping.
Given the built in registration advantage, Democrats normally win most statewide elections. Maryland has elected just one Republican - Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich - since 1967.