Baltimore Political Buzz Examiner: New Rasmussen Poll has governor’s race as dead heat

Just like in 2006, the rematch between  Republican Bob Ehrlich and Maryland Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley is proving to be a close one, at least early on. The two men are now tied, according to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the state.

O’Malley earns 45% of the vote, as does his GOP opponent whom he took the governorship away from in the previous contest. Five percent (5%) prefer some other candidate, and another five percent (5%) are undecided.

This race, as expected, has been close from the start. In February, O’Malley led Ehrlich in a hypothetical matchup 49% to 43%.   In April, with Ehrlich officially in the race, O’Malley led 47% to 44%.

In 2006, O’Malley, then the mayor of Baltimore, ultimately defeated Ehrlich, the first GOP governor in the state since the 1960s, by a 53% to 46% margin.

Ehrlich, while generally viewed as a popular governor, faces a tough struggle in a state that strongly leans Democratic.

Still, a majority (53%) of voters in Maryland favor  repeal of the recently passed national health care bill, slightly lower than the support for repeal found nationwide. Forty-two percent (42%) oppose repeal. This includes 42% who Strongly Favor repeal and 36% who Strongly Oppose it.

Eighty percent (80%) of those who Strongly Favor repeal support Ehrlich, while 81% of those who are Strongly Opposed back O’Malley.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls).  Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook. 

The survey of 500 Likely Voters in Maryland was conducted on June 8, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology. 

Male and female voters are evenly divided over which candidate they support.  Fifty-nine percent (59%) of white voters opt for the Republican, while 74% of African-Americans prefer the Democrat. Voters not affiliated with either major party also break even.

Just 49% of Maryland voters favor passage of an immigration law like the new one in Arizona for their state, six points lower than support nationally. Thirty-eight percent (38%) oppose such a law, and 12% are not sure.

Seventy-three percent (73%) of voters in the state who favor a law like Arizona’s back Ehrlich, while 80% of those opposed to such a law support O’Malley.

But nearly two-thirds (66%) of voters in Maryland support the central provision of the Arizona law, the requirement that local police check the immigration status of anyone pulled over for a traffic violation or some other kind of violation whom they suspect of being here illegally. Twenty-seven percent (27%) oppose that requirement.

Casino gambling is likely to raise its head again in this year’s governor’s race, and 51% favor adding table gambling to the slots casinos already being built in the state. Forty percent (40%) oppose table games.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of Maryland voters approve of the job O’Malley is doing as governor.  Forty-four percent (44%) disapprove.  These numbers include 20% who Strongly Approve and 26% who Strongly Disapprove.

O’Malley is viewed Very Favorably by 20% of Maryland voters and Very Unfavorably by just as many (20%).

Twenty-two percent (22%) share a Very Favorable opinion of the Republican challenger, while 21% view him Very Unfavorably.

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.

Longtime Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski faces no major GOP opposition in her bid for reelection this year. She is viewed Very Favorably by 33% of voters in the state and very Unfavorably by 28%.

Twenty percent (20%) have a Very Favorable opinion of the state’s other U.S. senator, Democrat Ben Cardin, while 21% regard him Very Unfavorably. 

Fifty-four percent (54%) believe offshore oil drilling should be allowed, slightly lower than the level measured nationally. Thirty-one percent (31%) do not believe such drilling should be permitted, and another 15% are not sure. 

Forty-seven percent (47%) feel the Gulf oil leak will have a devastating impact on the environment, while 35% more feel its impact will be major.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) say the companies involved in drilling at the leak site should pay for the massive cleanup, but 19% think the federal government should chip in and help pay some of the cleanup costs.

Barack Obama carried Maryland over John McCain in 2008 with 62% of the vote. Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters in Maryland now approve of his performance as president, while 43% disapprove of his job performance.  These numbers show little change from previous surveys and reflect a much better job approval rating than Obama earns nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll

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