Edwards Up in Maryland;
More National Data

Aug. 21, 2015 — Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD-4) released the results of her internal Global Strategies Group poll (Aug. 3-9; 600 likely Maryland Democratic primary voters) and, despite her severe disadvantage in fundraising, the data finds her leading fellow Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8) in their quest for the open Maryland Senate seat. Edwards maintains a five-point margin, 42-37 percent.

The released data included the Edwards-Van Hollen ballot test, plus favorability ratings for the two announced contenders and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7), who remains a potential Senate candidate.

Interestingly, the index scores for Edwards and Van Hollen are almost identical. The polling respondents rate Edwards at 45:9 percent favorable to unfavorable. Van Hollen registers 45:11 percent. But, Rep. Cummings does even better. He posts a whopping 65:9 percent positive ratio.

Though the Van Hollen campaign publicly responded to the poll, the spokesman did not dispute the Edwards’ data or counter with different numbers. The statement only referred to Van Hollen “building a huge amount of momentum and doing everything right to secure a clear path to victory.”

The latter comment was an obvious reference to the combined fundraising totals. According to the June 30 Federal Election Commission disclosure report, Van Hollen has raised over $4.2 million for the race and has $3.75 million cash-on-hand. Conversely, Edwards has only gathered $926,994, with just $418,962 in the bank. Neither candidate is reporting any debt.

Edwards needs two major developments to break her way in order to maintain her small lead. First, Cummings must stay out of the race, because her chances of overcoming Van Hollen in a two-way race are much better. The most recent political moves, however, suggest that Cummings will soon enter the race.

Second, she must unite the Obama coalition and motivate them to vote in an April 26, 2016 primary. Turnout should be heightened because the Maryland presidential contest will appear on the same ballot. This factor might make Edwards’ job of identifying supporters and delivering her vote easier but will also attract some more casual Democratic voters who may be more inclined to support Van Hollen.

Increasing her fundraising presence and totals goes without saying. It is highly unlikely she will ever out-raise Van Hollen, but Edwards must close the resource gap in order to remain competitive.

Clearly, the Edwards campaign is encouraged by this poll and Van Hollen’s response. The campaign will be highly active with the eventual Democratic nominee being virtually assured of a general election victory. Incumbent Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) is retiring.

President

The media is again highlighting a new CNN/ORC poll that promotes Donald Trump’s growing polling margin over the rest of the Republican presidential field. But that is not the survey’s key finding.

The polling methodology (Aug. 13-16; 1,001 adults; 897 registered voters; 466 registered Republicans and Independents who say they lean Republican) is greatly improved from the July CNN/ORC study. The polling sample is larger, and while the Republican primary segment is still smaller than what is traditionally viewed as strongly reliable for a poll of this type, the size is far superior to last month’s respondent grouping.

The most telling piece of data, however, is the falling approval score for ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Among registered voters, Trump scores a 38:58 percent positive to negative rating, which has been typical for him since the race began. Bush’s problem is that he now joins Trump in that sphere. According to this sample, Bush’s index is an even worse 35:57 percent. The falling popularity could be based upon his (Bush’s) first debate performance and overall lackluster campaign so far.

Additionally, Trump is now beginning to score very well in terms of voter confidence. When asked which of the Republican candidates would best handle the economy, 45 percent of the registered voter sample answered, Trump. In a distant second position was Bush with just eight percent.

Turning to immigration, Trump again drew the most mentions in relation to who the respondent cell believes would do the best job of “handling” the issue. Here, 44 percent chose Trump versus only 12 percent who believe Bush would be best, while all of the other candidates posted even lesser scores. A similar finding was reported about ISIS, with Trump getting a 32 percent confidence preference against Bush’s 16 percent.

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