Governor OWE Malley and Bob Ehrlich in a virtual Dead Heat

The rematch is on: Republican Bob Ehrlich is officially challenging incumbent Democrat Martin O’Malley for governor of Maryland, and the race at this stage is wide open.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in the state finds O’Malley, who defeated then-Governor Ehrlich in 2006, earning 47% support. Ehrlich gets 44% of the vote. Two percent (2%) prefer another candidate in the race, and seven percent (7%) are undecided.

In February, O’Malley led Ehrlich in a hypothetical matchup 49% to 43%.

Still, in a state that trends Democratic as strongly as Maryland, Ehrlich faces an uphill battle.

For example, Maryland is one of the few states where the majority of voters (50%) say the recently-passed national health care plan will be good for the country. Forty percent (40%) say it will be bad.

Republicans benefit in many races from the strong support for repeal of the health care plan. But in Maryland, just 46% favor repeal, while 49% are opposed. This includes 38% who strongly favor it and 44% who are strongly opposed.

Nationally, 56% of voters favor repeal of the health care plan.

Ehrlich earns 83% of the votes of those who strongly favor repeal. O’Malley gets 81% support from those who strongly oppose it.

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The Republican leads among male voters 55% to 38%. O’Malley, in turn, posts a similar 54% to 35% lead among women voters.

Among voters not affiliated with either major party, Ehrlich leads 64% to 24%.

Twenty-two percent (22%) of Maryland voters have a very favorable opinion of O’Malley, while 24% regard the governor very unfavorably.

Ehrlich is viewed very favorably by 27% and very unfavorably by 18%.

Both men are very well-known in the state, but at this point in a campaign, Rasmussen Reports considers the number of people with a strong opinion more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers.

O’Malley defeated Ehrlich with nearly 53% of the vote in 2006. Fifty percent (50%) of voters in the state now approve of how O’Malley is performing as governor, but that’s down three points from the previous survey. Forty-eight percent (48%) disapprove of his performance. This includes 22% who strongly approve and 29% who strongly disapprove.

Fifty-six percent (56%) favor the requirement in the health care plan that every American must buy or obtain health insurance, while 41% oppose it. This includes 35% who strongly favor and 32% who strongly oppose.

That’s why only 36% favor Maryland joining the other states that are suing the federal government to stop the health care plan on the grounds that the requirement is unconstitutional. Fifty-three percent (53%) oppose such a lawsuit.

Most Maryland voters (52%) say their own views on the major issues of the day are closer to the views of President Obama than those of the average Tea Party member. Thirty-nine percent (39%) say their views are more in line with the average Tea Party member.

Thirty percent (30%) say it would be better for Maryland if most incumbents in the state legislature were reelected, but 48% say it would be better if most were defeated. Still, 39% think their own local legislator deserves reelection, while nearly as many (36%) disagree.

Eleven percent (11%) of Maryland voters rate the U.S. economy as good or excellent, but 44% describe it as poor. Forty-seven percent (47%) say the economy is getting better; 32% say it’s getting worse, and 18% say it’s staying about the same.

Forty-six percent (46%) rate their own finances as good or excellent. Only 15% say their finances are poor. Thirty-three percent (33%) say their finances are getting better, 34% worse and 30% staying about the same.

Sixty percent (60%) of voters in Maryland believe offshore oil drilling should be allowed, but 51% say states should have the right to ban it off their own coastlines.

Obama carried Maryland over John McCain in 2008 with 62% of the vote. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of voters in the state now approve of his performance as president, with 44% who strongly approve. Thirty-nine percent (39%) disapprove, including 33% who strongly disapprove. These numbers are unchanged from February and reflect a much better job approval rating than Obama earns nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.

Rasmussen Reports also has released recent polls on the 2010 governor’s races in Wisconsin, Texas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vermont.

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Rasmussen Reports is an electronic publishing firm specializing in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information.

The Rasmussen Reports Election Edge™ Premium Service offers the most comprehensive public opinion coverage available anywhere.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade.


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