Undecided voters dominate in new gubernatorial poll

“Undecided” continues to hold a commanding lead in both the Democratic and Republican primary races for governor, according to a new poll released Wednesday by St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

The poll, an inaugural venture by the Southern Maryland college’s political science department, shows little movement in the race since previous  surveys. The results suggest  that voters have not tuned in to the June 24 primary contest.

Among the Democrats, the polls showed Lt. Gov. Anthony G.  Brown  with the support of 27 percent of  registered primary voters. Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Del. Heather R. Mizeur of Montgomery County lagged behind at 11 percent and 8 percent respectively.

While Brown maintained a strong margin over his rivals, two Democrats said they were undecided for every one that backs the lieutenant governor in his bid to succeed term-limited Gov. Martin O’Malley.

The 54 percent undecided level on the Democratic side was eclipsed by the uncertainty among Republicans.  Almost seven in 10 said they had not made a choice.

 Among those that have picked a candidate, Larry Hogan, a former Ehrlich administration official and founder of the conservative group Change Maryland, led with 16 percent. Harford County Executive David R. Craig trailed with 8 percent.  The severely underfunded campaigns of Del. Ron George of Anne Arundel County and  Charles County business executive Charles Lollar were  stuck below 4 percent.

Susan Grogan, professor of political science at St. Mary’s, said she doesn’t see much excitement about the race among voters.

“I would suspect we’re going to have a very low turnout,” she said.

The poll strongly tracks previous surveys  of the race and shows little sign that any candidate is gaining significant ground. For instance, a poll released by The Baltimore Sun in February showed Brown with 35 percent, Gansler with 14 percent and Mizeur with 10 percent.  On the Republican side Hogan polled at 13 percent and Craig at 7 percent.

The methodologies of the two polls were significantly different. Unlike the St. Mary’s poll, The Sun's poll used live callers and concentrated on 500 likely voters rather than all registered voters. The college’s automated poll surveyed 954 registered voters and had a margin of error of 3.17 percentage points.

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