The Democratic primary election for Maryland governor is a wide open race for the seven candidates seeking to challenge Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in November, according to a new poll from Goucher College.
The poll also found that Sen. Ben Cardin would defeat Chelsea Manning if the election was held today, and that Democratic voters say their decisions will hinge on the issues of education, the economy and employment.
The Goucher Poll surveyed 409 Maryland Democratic primary voters from Feb. 12-18 and has a margin of error of 4.8 percent.
Among its findings:
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III had a higher favorable rating — 30 percent — than former NAACP President Ben Jealous (28 percent) and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz (22 percent). If the June 26 primary election were held now, 19 percent of respondents said they would vote for Baker, 12 percent would favor Kamenetz and 10 percent would support Jealous.
“Our poll suggests that Democratic voters have yet to turn their full attention to the gubernatorial race,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center. “With so many undecided voters, there is ample time and room for the field to shift — even dramatically.”
Lesser-known candidates, she added, “need to increase their name recognition soon or this primary could become a three-way race.”
Other Democratic candidates for the primary include: Baltimore lawyer Jim Shea, state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., entrepreneur Alec Ross, and former Michelle Obama adviser Krish Vignarajah.
In the Senate race, the poll showed that 64 percent of respondents held a favorable opinion of Cardin while 91 percent either had no opinion or an unfavorable one of Manning, the transgender Maryland woman convicted of sharing thousands of military documents with Wikileaks.
In the head-to-head match up, about six in ten respondents said they back Cardin compared with 17 percent for Manning and 19 percent who said they don’t know.
Democratic voters who participated in the poll said that education was the most important issue influencing their decisions. The economy and jobs was the second most critical issue, followed by racial and social justice and health care.
As for ideology, 44 percent of Democrats questioned for the poll described themselves as “progressive,” while 43 percent said they were “moderate.” Another 10 percent said they were “conservative,” according to the poll.