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Maryland Senate Race



Steele (R)

Bio | Campaign Site

Ben Cardin

Ben Cardin (D)

Bio | Campaign Site

RealClearPolitics Snapshot
RCP Average: Cardin +3.7 % |RCP Chart
RCP Ranking: Toss Up
Governor Race: Ehrlich (R)* vs. O'Malley (D)

Polling Data

PollDateSampleSteele (R)Cardin (D)Und.Spread
Final Results----44.254.2--Cardin +10.0
RCP Average10/31 - 11/5-- +3.7
SurveyUSA11/3 - 11/5663 LV46492Cardin +3
Mason-Dixon11/1 - 11/3625 LV44479Cardin +3
Rasmussen10/31 - 10/31500 LV45505Cardin +5

All Maryland Senate Race Polling Data

Previous Elections

2004: Mikulski 65, Pipkin 34
2000: Sarbanes 63, Rappaport 37
1998: Mikulski 71, Pierpont 30

2004: Kerry 56, Bush 43
2000: Gore 57, Bush 40
1996: Clinton 54, Dole 39


Registered Voters: Dem 54.6% | Rep 29.5% | Other 15.9%
Occupation: Blue Collar 18.1% | White Collar 67.7% | Gray Collar 14.2%
Race: White 62.1% | Black 27.7% | Hispanic 4.3% | Asian 4.0%


(November 2) A Reverse Wilder Effect in MD Senate? The good news for Steele is he has essentially halved Cardin's lead from eleven to six in The Sun poll. It is moderately good news for Cardin that the same survey that shows O'Malley up only one point in the Governor race has him with a six-point lead on Steele. But the Cardin campaign can't be thrilled with only a six-point lead with Steele only pulling 12% of the black vote. With Steele sporting a 7-point lead among white voters, what happens to Cardin's lead if Steele's 12% of the black vote goes to 20% or 25%? That's why this week's endorsement of Steele by powerful Prince George's county black Democrats is potentially huge in this race. This poll was taken Saturday-Monday and thus was taken too early gauge what impact their endorsements may have on the race. Steele still has clear momentum.

(October 31) Steele pulled down a huge endorsement from former PG County executive Wayne Curry Tuesday which is helping him sustain the momentum he has had the last three weeks. Cardin at this point is just hoping the huge Democratic registration advantage and the anti-Bush environment will carry him through, but he better halt Steele’s momentum before he finds himself behind Nov 8th.

(October 26) This race continues to offer perhaps a real sleeper surprise on election day. The conventional wisdom had always been that Steele needed an Mfume win in the Democratic primary to have a real shot here, but as we wrote before the primary, Cardin could be just the ticket for Michael Steele to the US Senate. The black vote in Maryland can run as high as 30% depending on turnout - and because of the way Mfume was passed over - and the fact that Steele is the first African-American elected state wide in Maryland’s history, Steele is poised to maybe capture as much as a 1/3rd of the African-American vote. Cardin simply can not win if Steele gets 33% of the black vote in Maryland. On top of this, Cardin has run an abysmal, vanilla campaign in contrast to Steele; epitomized by this week’s debate where Steele took him to the woodshed. The Washington Post Page 1 Metro section described Cardin’s performance as “a stammering, defensive congressman from another planet.”

Steele has the momentum, the question is how much and will it be enough. It will be very interesting to see where the next round of polls place this race.

(October 19) SurveyUSA continues to poll this race very favorably for Steele. And a Public Opinion Strategies partisan poll has Cardin ahead by only 4 points, 47% - 43%. The Gallup poll in late September appears to be a clear outlier and Steele does look to have a little momentum in the RCP Average.

If the general outlook for Republicans can improve just a little between now and election day Steele may have shot at the upset because of his ability to eat into critical African-American votes the Democratic nominee would usually count on as in the bag. Steele is pulling 25% of the black vote in SurveyUSA’s latest poll down from 33% in their September poll. If it looks like he can get a 1/3rd of the African-American vote on election day this race becomes a true toss up.

(October 2) Steele is going to need to pull a little closer in the RCP Average if he hopes to pull of the upset.

(September 21) Maryland continues to be a major sleeper race in the battle for the Senate. Last night WMAR-TV in Baltimore released a poll done by SurveyUSA giving Steele a one point lead 48% - 47%, and more importantly showing him receiving 33% of the African-American vote. That 33% number is more than double the 15% African-American support for Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich in the same poll. While Maryland Democrats are working hard to paper over any lingering animosity from the primary, Mfume's much closer than expected loss (the final was 43.5 %- 40.6%) has produced a quiet bitterness in parts of the black political community toward Cardin and the Md. Dem establishment. With the Ehrlich - O'Malley race for Governor likely to tighten and be extremely close at the finish, if Steele can maintain that 30%+ support among black voters this race becomes a total toss up.

(September 13) The conventional wisdom for Maryland has always been that an Mfume win is what the GOP needed to really put this traditionally Democratic seat in play. Two weeks ago, however, I speculated that a Cardin win may lay the foundation for the same path to victory Gov. Bob Ehrlich followed in 2002. Now 2002 was a very different year in tone and tenor for Republicans, and at the end of the day, the current macro-negativity toward President Bush and the GOP is what makes Cardin the clear favorite here in the general. However, Steele should not be counted out in this race.

An unenthusiastic black vote was a crucial element to Ehrlich's win four years ago, and the rejection of Mfume will not help the Democrats in that regard. So not only will Cardin likely be looking at smaller than otherwise black turnout, Steele as the first African-American to win statewide in MD, is perfectly positioned to challenge for a large portion of Maryland's sizable African-American electorate. A smaller black turnout overall, coupled with Steele perhaps capturing 30% of the statewide African-American vote, could make this a very interesting race election night.

(September 1) Mr. Steele has quietly put himself in position to pull off an upset in November. A poll released this week by Maryland-based Gonzales Research shows Mr. Steele trailing Democratic Rep. Ben Cardin by five points, 44% to 39%, and ahead of former Congressman Kweisi Mfume by four points, 42% to 38%. The Democratic primary will occur on September 12 and despite a current consensus to the contrary, it could turn out to be a lose-lose contest for the Dems.

The polling is split on which Democrat has the edge in the party's internal nomination battle -- Gonzales Research has Mr. Cardin ahead, SurveyUSA has Mr. Mfume in front. And the contest has its own racial dimension, with Mr. Mfume, a former NAACP president, complaining about a white-controlled Democratic machine trying to hand the nomination to Mr. Cardin. Most analysts feel that Mr. Steele would have a solid shot against Mr. Mfume in the general, and the polling tends to bear that out, with Mr. Steele running anywhere from 5 to 10 points better against Mr. Mfume than Mr. Cardin.

However, if Mr. Cardin holds on to win after what has been a racially tinged primary against Mr. Mfume, Democrats could face the very real prospect of a disappointed African-American base in the fall. One of the key reasons Governor Bob Ehrlich was able to become the first Republican in over 40 years to win the Maryland statehouse was an unenthusiastic black vote for Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in 2002.

With Mr. Steele having just picked up a high-profile endorsement from hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, if Mr. Cardin is the Democratic nominee, Mr. Steele is poised to capture a quarter to a third of Maryland's very large African-American vote. That means the conventional wisdom may be wrong on Maryland's Senate race: A primary win by Mr. Cardin might be what Michael Steele needs to pull off the upset.


Polling Data

PollDateSampleSteele (R)Cardin (D)Und.Spread
Final Results----44.254.2--Cardin +10.0
RCP Average10/31 - 11/5-- +3.7
SurveyUSA11/3 - 11/5663 LV46492Cardin +3
Mason-Dixon11/1 - 11/3625 LV44479Cardin +3
SurveyUSA10/31 - 11/2694 LV47474Tie
Rasmussen10/31 - 10/31500 LV45505Cardin +5
Reuters/Zogby10/24 - 10/31600 LV44495Cardin +5
Baltimore Sun10/28 - 10/30800 LV43495Cardin +6
Zogby Interactive*10/23 - 10/27LV 4453--Cardin +9
Rasmussen10/26 - 10/26500 LV45502Cardin +5
Washington Post10/22 - 10/261003 LV43541Cardin +11
Garin Hart Yang (D)10/23 - 10/24LV 40528Cardin +12
VC Research (R)10/22 - 10/23602 LV394116Cardin +2
SurveyUSA10/15 - 10/17698 LV46464Tie
Zogby Interactive *10/10 - 10/16664 LV4351--Cardin +8
Rasmussen10/10 - 10/10500 LV44533Cardin +9
Pub Op Str (R)10/2 - 10/4800 RV43476Cardin +4
Reuters/Zogby9/25 - 10/2600 LV374516Cardin +8
USA Today/Gallup9/27 - 10/1678 LV39546Cardin +15
VC Research (R)9/27 - 9/28602 LV394415Cardin +5
Mason-Dixon9/22 - 9/26625 LV414712Cardin +6
Zogby Interactive*9/19 - 9/25--39529Cardin +13
SurveyUSA9/17 - 9/19522 LV48472Steele +1
Potomac9/15 - 9/18815 LV40519Cardin +11
Rasmussen9/13 - 9/13500 LV43505Cardin +7
Zogby Interactive*8/29 - 9/5n/a 404911Cardin +9
Gonzales Res.8/18 - 8/25625 LV394415Cardin +5
Rasmussen8/9 - 8/9500 LV42477Cardin +5
Pub Op Str (R)8/1 - 8/2500 RV354312Cardin +8
Rasmussen7/10 - 7/10500 LV41479Cardin +6
Potomac7/6 - 7/101200 LV364717Cardin +11
Washington Post6/19 - 6/25902 RV40527Cardin +12
Rasmussen4/18 - 4/18500 LV354514Cardin +10
Gonzales Res.4/4 - 4/13819 RV354916Cardin +14
Rasmussen2/19 - 2/19500 LV35499Cardin +14
Rasmussen1/10 - 1/10500 LV454011Steele +5
Rasmussen11/16 - 11/16500 LV41497Cardin +8
Potomac10/27 - 11/11008 LV324325Cardin +11
Gonzales Res.10/17 - 10/21815 RV384715Cardin +9
Rasmussen7/18 - 7/18500 LV404511Cardin +5
Potomac4/11 - 4/131000 LV374118Cardin +4