Thursday, April 01, 2010

Democrats Preview Anti-Ehrlich Message with Push Poll

The Maryland Democrats have released the results of a poll they conducted of 400 likely GOP primary voters of their opinions and voting intentions in their primary. The Democrats have shown that quite a few Republicans are iffy on Ehrlich at best. But the real value of the poll is that it outlines how the Democratic attack strategy can yield at least some success with voters.

The poll’s voting sample was 400 Republican voters, 94% of whom said they were certain to vote in the Republican primary. At the poll’s outset, 59% of them said they would vote for Ehrlich and 31% said they preferred “another Republican candidate.” Then the Dems asked their sample the following questions:

Q6. Now I’m going to read you some things you might learn about Bob Ehrlich and his record. After each item, please tell me if you feel much less likely to support Bob Ehrlich, somewhat less likely to support Bob Ehrlich, or if it makes no difference to you either way?

Bob Ehrlich was the biggest-spending governor in Maryland history, and in his last budget he proposed the LARGEST-EVER increase in state spending.

Much less likely to support: 17%
Somewhat less likely to support: 19%
No difference either way: 58%
Not sure: 6%

Q7. Bob Ehrlich has spent the last three year working as a lobbyist for state contractors, gaming interests, and foreign governments like China.

Much less likely to support: 20%
Somewhat less likely to support: 11%
Makes no difference either way: 63%
Not sure: 6%

Q8. As governor, Bob Ehrlich raised taxes and fees by $3 billion, including raising state property taxes. He authored and supported numerous tax increases that have added up to tens of billions of dollars.

Much less likely to support: 23%
Somewhat less likely to support: 17%
Makes no difference: 56%
Not Sure: 4%

Q9. Based on what we have discussed, in the REPUBLICAN primary election for governor, do you think you will support Bob Ehrlich, or is there a chance you could support another Republican candidate?

Ehrlich: 45%
Someone Else: 47%
Not sure: 9%
The push questions resulted in a loss of Ehrlich’s primary voting percentage of fourteen points among Republicans, from 59% to 45%.

One of the reasons for this poll may be to encourage a credible Republican to run against Ehrlich in the primary, thereby creating a George Owings-type distraction. If that is the purpose, the Democrats should stop dreaming. No serious Republican believes Ehrlich can be defeated in their party’s primary. And in the general election, the GOP will definitely come out strong for Ehrlich. That is because many Republicans will actually be voting against Barack Obama when they pull the lever for Ehrlich. No messaging of any kind from O’Malley or the Democrats can overcome Republican hostility to the President.

But strong Republican turnout will not be enough for Ehrlich to win. Given the voting patterns in the state, he also needs a sizable majority of independents and at least a quarter of Democrats to defeat O’Malley. The Dems are betting that sustained attacks related to Ehrlich’s record on taxes, spending and lobbying for businesses connected to China will deprive Ehrlich of enough votes among swing groups to deliver the election to O’Malley. And the monetary advantages possessed by both O’Malley and the state party will allow them to define Ehrlich’s record before he can raise enough money to respond.

No matter which side you’re on, it’s going to be a hot summer.