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Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

Pollster, Jealous trade barbs over gubernatorial race surveys

Ben Jealous speaks next to running mate Susan Turnbull outside Eye Candy Opticianry on West 36th Street in Hampden. (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

Ben Jealous speaks next to running mate Susan Turnbull outside Eye Candy Opticianry on West 36th Street in Hampden. (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

A well-known Maryland pollster and the Democratic gubernatorial nominee are trading barbs over recent voter surveys of the governor’s race.

Patrick Gonzales, director of Annapolis-based Gonzales Research and Media Services, expressed surprise over recent comments made by Ben Jealous, the Democratic nominee for governor, regarding a nearly one-month-old poll.

“What surprises me is that he is still talking about it,” Gonzales said. “I would think he should start talking about things that voters care about.”

Gonzales’ comments come after Jealous Monday criticized the August survey produced by Gonzales that showed Republican Gov. Larry Hogan holding an early 16-point lead in a head-to-head contest leading to the Nov. 6 general election.

“Precisely, Gonzales underestimated my support, two weeks before the primary, by 17 points,” said Jealous during an interview on the C4 Show on WBAL radio. “So when he says I’m down by 16 points right now, I figure I should win by 1 (point).”

This is not the first time Jealous has criticized Gonzales’ polling.

“Based on past precedent, these poorly designed public polls have never accurately predicted or captured the mood of Marylanders as we saw from the primary” Kevin Harris, a senior adviser to the Jealous campaign, said in August. “The truth is this is a competitive race which is why Republicans have spent more than a million dollars lying about Ben’s record. We will continue building a robust field operation to mobilize Democrats to the polls around Ben’s vision for fully funding education, providing relief to skyrocketing health care and prescription drug costs, and creating good paying jobs for Marylanders.”

Jealous and his campaign have maintained that their own internal polling, including one July survey, is more accurate. That July internal poll showed Jealous trailing Hogan by about 9 points.

Additionally, Jealous and his campaign say they plan to defeat Hogan by increasing turnout among Democratic voters who skipped 2014.

Gonzales’ June 12 poll showed Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker leading Jealous 25 to 22.6 respectively, with 22 percent undecided in essentially a nine-way primary. The lead of less than 4 percent was essentially a statistical tie given the survey’s 3.5 percent margin of error.

Additionally, the poll showed Jealous winning nearly every jurisdiction but ceding large projected leads to Baker in Prince George’s and Charles counties and a 7-point lead in Montgomery County.

Similarly, a June 10 Baltimore Sun pre-primary poll had Baker and Jealous tied at 16 percent with 44 percent undecided. A June 5 Washington Post pre-primary poll showed Jealous leading Baker 21 to 16 percent  with 39 percent reporting “no opinion.” The Washington Post described the Jealous lead at the time as not statistically significant.

Results from the June 26 primary showed Jealous ultimately won all the jurisdictions projected by the Gonzales Poll. But instead of losing Charles County big to Baker, Jealous won by nearly 300 votes. In Montgomery County, Jealous won by 4,000 votes but lost Baker’s home county by nearly 16,000 votes.

County-by-county breakouts in polls such as the June Gonzales poll are less exact and subject to larger swings because the numbers are just smaller subsets of the larger survey.

Jealous ultimately won with nearly 40 percent of the statewide vote compared to Baker’s share of just over 29 percent of the vote.

“If he wants to say Patrick Gonzales can’t predict the future, I stand guilty as charged,” said Gonzales. “I didn’t know he was going to get 75 percent of the undecided. Nobody did.”

Gonzales said he wasn’t angry about Jealous’ comments but joked: “No one gets to disparage my name except my wife and daughters.”

That same June 12 Gonzales Poll showed Jealous trailing Hogan by 17 points in a head-to-head match-up. The survey released last month by the Annapolis pollster had Jealous behind by 16 percent.

“He’s been going on this track for weeks, talking about the poll when what he should be doing is finding votes,” said Gonzales. “The dynamic in Maryland hasn’t changed for him.”


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One comment


    The pollster was probably correct for the primary election. Once Rushern Baker had Martin O’Malley on his campaign stage the numbers changed. Marylanders want nothing to do with Martin O’Malley.