[UPDATE @8:57 am]: Statement from Van Hollen campaign spokeswoman Bridgett Frey:
We’re pleased that Chris Van Hollen has maintained his lead, despite the million dollar blitz of Super PAC advertising. We’re confident that voters are looking for his effective, progressive leadership that gets things done for Maryland families.
Original post follows:
Early this morning, a new Senate race poll from Patrick Gonzales was released showing Chris Van Hollen leading Donna Edwards 38-36 in the Democratic primary to replace Barbara Mikulski. The results are part of a larger poll of all Maryland voters, the poll also showing that Governor Larry Hogan enjoys a 67% job approval rating, the highest in Maryland history for a Republican governor.
Gonzales’ analysis is as follows:
This election could well test the old axiom in politics that claims “message trumps money,” because Chris Van Hollen has plenty of money and the proven ability to craft a compelling enough message, as demonstrated by his success 14 years ago, when he took on the “Kennedy Dynasty” in the Democratic primary for Congress in 2002.
Donna Edwards would wish to replicate her 2008 effort, when she cobbled together a very impressive coalition of influential, progressive groups and community organizations, which translated into broad success on Election Day.
Van Hollen is garnering 60% of the vote in Montgomery County, with 15% still undecided. Edwards has 68% of the vote in Prince George’s County, with 11% undecided.
Van Hollen’s recognition and money advantage have propelled him to a 16 point lead in the Baltimore suburbs, and a 2-to-1 lead (49% to 24%) in the Eastern Shore/Southern MD and Western Maryland rural parts of the state. But, while the Baltimore suburbs, Eastern Shore/Southern MD, and Western Maryland regions comprise 21 of the 23 counties, they make up less than 50 percent of the vote in a Democratic primary.
Edwards is up 50% to 24% in Baltimore City, suggesting resources her campaign has dedicated to messaging in the Baltimore media market are paying dividends there.
There is a bit of gender partiality in play, with Van Hollen leading among men, 45% to 30%, and Edwards ahead with women, 40% to 33%. Come April this will work to Edwards’ advantage because women make up nearly sixty percent of the vote in a Democratic primary in Maryland.
So, as stated earlier in this analysis, Maryland Democrats have two creditable candidates from which to choose. With the reward being to follow into the footsteps of a political legend,
Van Hollen’s money-advantage and establishment-backing prove dispositive?
Edwards’ grassroots strength and progressive group endorsements carry the day?
The answer to these questions is what campaigns are for and why elections are held.
Bottom Line: Slight edge to Edwards
This poll will be perceived as a positive for Edwards, although it would be even better if she were leading rather than narrowly trailing.
My own sense is that Gonzales’ analysis somewhat overstates the strengths of the Edwards campaign. While we have yet to see the 2015 Q4 fundraising numbers, my belief is that those numbers will not only show Van Hollen with an enormous financial edge, they will show Edwards with so little money as to raise questions about her ability to pay staff and other campaign essentials from now until April 26. As I and others have noted, she is likely to entirely reliant on outside groups such as EMILY’s List for her TV and other media - I don’t see her as likely to be able to afford even direct mail on any significant scale, this being a statewide race. There is no historical precedent in any race of this magnitude - anywhere, not just Maryland - where a candidate wins with such massive reliance on IE spending to win. When all is said and done, this fact is likely to take a heavy toll on Edwards’ performance when the votes are ultimately cast.
Other results from the poll:
Clinton 40, Sanders 27, O’Malley 5. Sanders leads among white voters 43-25, but Clinton leads by 61-6 among black voters, with O’Malley drawing more support (8%) than Sanders.
Trump 32, Cruz 15, Rubio 14, Carson 9, Christie 8, Bush 6. Trump has 41% among men, 22% among women (still leads both)
Maryland Right Track/Wrong Track: 60/22, Democrats 52/28, Republicans 73/14, Unaffiliated 66/15, Male 64/18, Female 57/26, White 64/20, Black 48/30