WASHINGTON – A new poll of Maryland voters shows Sen. John Kerry with a commanding lead over Sen. John Edwards as both campaigns make one last push in the state before Tuesday’s primary election.
The survey of 625 voters by WRC-TV and Mason-Dixon said Kerry leads Edwards by a margin of 62 percent to 20 percent. The telephone survey was done from Monday to Wednesday and has a margin of error of plus or minus four points.
“Kerry is riding this wave of momentum,” said Larry Harris, principal of Mason-Dixon.
“Edwards has not spent much time or money here and Maryland is not a Deep South state, so what kind of positive stimulus would prevent Marylanders from voting for the front-runner?” he asked.
Harris also thinks Democrats are looking to find the best candidate to challenge President Bush. The poll said Kerry would beat Bush in Maryland, 47 to 38 percent, while Edwards would edge the president by a 44 to 39 percent margin in the state.
Harris was not surprised that Bush is not doing well in the state, noting Maryland has been one of the top five states for Democrats in the last three presidential elections.
“Even as more Republicans move into Central and Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore, it is offset by increases in population in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties,” which tend to vote Democratic, he said.
The poll comes just days before the Super Tuesday primary, when Maryland will join nine other states, including California, New York and Ohio, to select more than a quarter of all delegates for the summer’s nominating convention.
Despite Kerry’s lead, and the fact that bigger states are at stake Tuesday, both camps said they would be active in Maryland in the remaining days.
Kerry is scheduled stop at Morgan State University for a rally Monday morning. Volunteers will campaign across the state for the Massachusetts senator this weekend, making phone calls in Prince George’s County and distributing leaflets in numerous counties, officials said.
Edwards, whose campaign opened an office Monday in Capitol Heights, is not expected in the state. But the North Carolina senator’s wife, Elizabeth, is scheduled to be in Maryland all day Saturday, stopping at house parties in Owings Mills, Germantown and Highland before ending up at an Annapolis event hosted by Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens.
Besides Owens, Edwards has been backed by Rep. Al Wynn, D-Largo, since early in the campaign.
But Kerry this week scored endorsements from most of the other top Democrats in the state, including every Democrat in the congressional delegation but Wynn. Attorney General Joseph Curran, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch and county executives and legislators from across the state joined in a statement of support Tuesday.
“We urge all Marylanders to unite behind John Kerry for president, the Democrat who can and will defeat George W. Bush in November — and restore the promise of the American dream for all,” the statement said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, announced his endorsement of Kerry separately Thursday. Cummings had been a prominent supporter of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean before he pulled out of the presidential race last week.
It is not clear if Dean’s supporters will turn out Tuesday, or how they will vote — Dean was not included in the latest Mason-Dixon poll.
Terry Lierman, who was head of Dean’s campaign in Maryland, said he thinks many Dean supporters will still vote for their candidate Tuesday to signal that his message “resonated” with Democrats.
But Wayne Rogers, Kerry’s campaign chairman in Maryland, said he believes many of Dean’s supporters will go to the polls and simply shift their vote to another candidate.
Even though the field has been narrowed with the loss of Dean, Jim Dornan, a veteran Republican consultant, believes that the battle between Kerry and Edwards will translate into an active electorate.
But the campaigns’ strategies for the remaining days suggests that both are realistic about their chances, he said.
“The Kerry people say it’s done, and the Edwards people have to prove otherwise,” Dornan said.
-30- CNS 02-27-04