Commentary: For Brown and Gansler, it’s all about being disliked less

By Todd Eberly


St. Marys poll graphThere is a great graphic included with the release of the new St. Mary’s College Maryland Poll. It tracks candidate support from the first statewide poll taken in October of 2013 up though the college’s just released poll.

Anthony Brown is the sitting, two-term lieutenant governor. He has been running for this nomination for the past year. He has raked in the endorsement of every high profile Democrat in Maryland, multiple special interest groups, and Bill Clinton. And yet his level of support has fallen by nearly 14 percentage points since October.

Doug Gansler is the sitting, two-term attorney general. He scared away any competition in 2010 and was reelected with better than 90% of the vote. He’s been running for the nomination since his first election as attorney general (he often joked AG actually meant aspiring governor). He officially declared his candidacy back in September. Since then, his support has fallen by over 10 percentage points.

Heather Mizeur was a little known and very progressive delegate from Montgomery County when she announced that she was going to join the race as well. Few in the press took her seriously at the time, but she has run a clean and rather uplifting campaign. Her level of support has increased by 2.5 percentage points – though she’s still in the single digits.

Meanwhile, “No Preference” has become a voter favorite, as reported in yesterday’s analysis. Mr. Preference was trailing Lt. Gov. Brown by nearly 8 points in October, but has since surged 21 points to become the unmistakable leader in the race.

A sad state of affairs

This is a sad state of affairs folks. We have two rather well known and established candidates in Brown and Gansler – and yet, the more they campaign and the more people learn about them the less people seem to like them. Mizeur is the only candidate gaining ground, she still has a lot of ground to make up, but it’s easier to gain on an opponent who is falling.

Gansler has been hounding Brown on the failure of the Maryland health exchange, continually questioning his leadership skills and qualifications to office. Though the leadership in the Maryland General Assembly effectively whitewashed any meaningful investigation, it’s clear the matter has harmed Brown.

Brown often responds to Gansler’s criticisms by dismissing the attorney general as reckless and unprepared. Gansler has been dogged by early scandals concerning his treatment of state troopers assigned to drive him and owing to his presence at a graduation party where underage drinking was taking place. Many believe that at least one of those “scandals” was fed to the press by the Brown campaign and it’s clear that they have harmed Gansler.
In recent days, Brown and Gansler have accelerated the war of words. The graphic above explains why. It’s clear that voters don’t like either man – so now, each is simply trying to become the one that voters dislike less. How inspiring. It’s a sad state of affairs.
Gansler and Brown had better watch out. They’re each doing such an effective job convincing the public to reject the other that by Primary Day on June 24th they may just discover that they were so busy tearing each other down they didn’t notice how effectively they were building Mizeur up.

Todd Eberly is associate professor of political science and Coordinator of Public Policy Studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He is currently on sabbatical writing a book, and had no involvement in the new poll.

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Len – Am really disappointed with the unbalanced coverage regarding who is running for Governor.   Todd Eberly’s article on Gansler and Brown would lead one to believe that the only party that has candidates running is the Democrat party.   How about an article focusing on the Republican candidates?  thanks,

SueAnn in Annapolis

Len responds: Eberly covered the Republicans in the poll in the article the day before, posted on Wednesday. What he says won’t likely make you happy, but I should point out that there is no public polling that could track the GOP race in the same way.

Len Lazarick

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Todd Eberly

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