Friday, October 1, 2010

Toss Up or Tossing Cookies?

from The Baltimore Sun

National political analyst Charlie Cook disregarded a recent Washington Post poll giving Gov. Martin O'Malley an 11 point advantage among likely voters in his rematch with former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich and yesterday moved the contest from "leans Democrat" to "toss up." (note to self - Disregard Sun's blatant O'Malley bias in trying to paint the current Governor invulnerable)

In his Sept. 30 report, Cook stresses that both candidates have said the race will be close, both the RGA and the DGA have poured money into the state, and that this year O'Malley has the "political winds blowing in his face."

"It looks increasingly like the race will end up being a single-digit contest," Cook wrote.

It could also be that Cook is hedging his bets, as he's nearly emptied out all of his other categories and has piled 17 other governor's races in the toss up category. That also shows there's considerable competition for national money.

The report hardly represents a consensus view: Real Clear Politics has Maryland in the leans Democrat column, showing that the last three polls put O'Malley ahead by various margins. RCP guesses that O'Malley has a +5.7 advantage over Ehrlich.

Still, some Maryland prognosticators are scratching their heads about the Post's poll, with Todd Eberly, the interim director at St. Mary's College's Center for the Study of Democracy hypothesizing that the paper's pollster overstated likely turnout. (Eberly e-mailed to say he just chatted with the Post's pollster Jon Cohen and say the survey overestimated Democratic turnout in their model by assuming it would match 2008 numbers and understated GOP turnout by assuming it would be weaker than 2008. "Not likely," Eberly says.)

It is also worth noting, as The Sun's Andy Green did on his Second Opinion blog, that the Post didn't veer from the methodology used for their May poll which showed 47-47 split among likely voters, meaning at the very least the trend line is one Ehrlich will want to turn around if he hopes to win.

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