Sunday, November 29, 2015

Rep. Chris Van Hollen Jumps Into Lead in Maryland's Open Seat US Senate Race After Early Ad Campaign Spending

By Matt Verghese

With 150 days left to go until Maryland’s April 26 primary, Representative Chris Van Hollen has leapfrogged over Congresswoman Donna Edwards to take a large lead in the Democratic primary according to a new poll by the The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore.

Van Hollen

A BIG JUMP: A month after a random digit dial The Washington Post-UMD poll gave Edwards a large 10 point lead (38-28), Van Hollen is now up a whopping 14 points. 45% of likely primary voters choose him, while only 31% side with Edwards. An August Global Strategy Group internal poll for the Edwards campaign said Van Hollen was behind 37-42.

While one should be cautious when comparing polls by different organizations, the newest numbers suggest not only a significant uptick in support for Van Hollen but a dramatic erosion of support for Edwards. While the Sun has not released full crosstabs of their poll, they note that Van Hollen is performing “remarkably well” with women and African American voters. Van Hollen is winning female voters by 7% and is attracts almost 30% of support from black voters.

One of five voters remain undecided, and Edwards would need almost all of them to break for her.

REAPING THE REWARDS : Unknown in the Baltimore region - even though Ambassador Chris Van Hollen Sr. was born there - Van Hollen’s campaign decided to invest resources in early ads on broadcast and cable television in the relatively inexpensive Baltimore media market . In three introductory spots, Baltimore voters heard Chris Van Hollen was “a hero to environmentalists, education groups and gun control advocates,” is “not afraid to take on the special interests” and “led the fight to stop Republican cuts to Social Security and end their special deals for Wall Street.

The exact size of the month long ad buy is unknown, they seem to have been incredibly effective. Van Hollen is leading by 16 points in Baltimore City - a jurisdiction that both Anthony Brown and Kweisi Mfume won convincingly in their primaries. In the wider Baltimore region, Van Hollen’s lead expands to 2:1.

STICK A FORK IN IT? The Edwards camp who had been loudly touting her strong poll numbers until now, cannot be happy. She was already running out of cash and this new poll is a broadside on her continued viability as a statewide candidate. The demographics may be on her side, but attracting new supporters could be difficult if they don’t believe she can win. And another disappointing fundraising quarter could give any national organization serious reservations about bailing out a floundering campaign facing an uphill climb.

Edwards likely knows the facts on the ground. She’s been spending a lot of time in Baltimore and her campaign just opened up an office in the City last week. But unless she can compete on the airwaves, the campaign will not be able to reach enough voters to make a difference. The three #McConnelling B-roll videos she has put up simply won’t do the trick.

STILL WAITING ON CUMMINGS: Everyone’s still formally waiting on Representative Elijah Cummings to make his intentions on the US Senate race publicly known, but signals still point to the Baltimore Congressman staying in the House.

This poll finds Cummings leading the field by 12 points with 40%, Van Hollen second at 28% and Edwards bringing up the rear with 19%.

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