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Political Notes: Details From a Gubernatorial Poll

5/6/2022 | Josh Kurtz, Bruce DePuyt

Maryland Matters

Poll: Voters weren’t tracking Dem gubernatorial primary in early April

A public opinion survey conducted last month found that Democratic voters were not, for the most part, focused on the July 19 gubernatorial primary, nor did they know much about the candidates.

The survey, conducted by supporters of former Obama education secretary John B. King Jr. (D), also found that while some voters may have a favored candidate, they’re still weighing their options and could end up casting ballots for someone else. Nearly 40 percent were undecided.

The survey was conducted April 2-5 by Change Research, a firm hired by For The People MD, a PAC supporting King. The poll surveyed 886 Democrats who reported having at least a 50-50 chance of casting a ballot in the primary.

“With more than three months to go, voters have not engaged with this race,” pollster Stephen Clermont wrote in an April 9 memo accompanying the survey. “Just 23% have given a lot of thought to the primary compared to 42% who have only given some thought to it and 35% who have given little or no thought.”

Clermont said that 62% of Democrats who expressed “an initial vote preference” said they are “open to voting for a different candidate.”

In the poll’s initial query, Comptroller Peter Franchot was the frontrunner, with 20% of the vote, followed by former nonprofit executive Wes Moore at 13%, former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III at 10%, former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez at 7%, former state Attorney General Doug Gansler at 5% and King at 3%.

Pollsters then supplied the candidates’ current and former titles and asked voters which candidates they would be willing to “consider,” based on their identifier.

Nearly half (49%) said they would be willing to consider Franchot, 48% said they would be willing to consider Perez, 31% said they would be willing to consider King, 27% would be willing to consider Baker and Gansler, and 26% said they would consider Moore.

The poll has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points, according to the memo.

The campaign hopes to use the survey to convince potential donors that King has a strong upside, despite his low standing in most current surveys.

“Despite the lack of paid communications so far, when voters learn more information about John King, Jr. and his commitment to education, his support grows and he becomes a leading contender,” Clermont wrote.