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August 2002
New Maryland 8th Congressional District Poll Shows Close Race

The four-way Democratic primary in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District has come down to a two-person race, with Del. Mark Shriver holding a slim 42% to 34% lead over Sen. Chris Van Hollen among the most frequent primary voters, according to a new poll conducted by Potomac Incorporated.  Ira Shapiro and Deborah Vollmer trail with 8% and 1%, respectively.  Sixteen percent remain undecided.

Potomac conducted the 8th District poll for The (Baltimore) Sun and The Gazette among 600 likely primary-voting Democrats August 22-23, 2002 in the newly re-drawn district.  This survey caries a margin of error of +/- 4.1% at a 95% confidence level.

 Among the poll’s major findings are these:

  • The incumbent Congressperson, Republican Connie Morella, remains extremely popular among these primary-voting Democrats.  One-third say they have “usually” voted for her in past general elections, and she is personally viewed favorably by two-thirds.

  • This could be a different kind of a year for Morella, however.  Forty-four percent of those who say they have usually voted for her in the past now want to put a Democrat in the seat to help their party retake Congress.

  • Shriver is viewed as the most electable of the candidates against Morella, which could emerge as a key strength for him in the election’s final days.  While 79% of Shriver’s own supporters think he is best positioned among the four candidates to win, only 47% of Van Hollen’s supporters think their candidate is the most electable.  By contrast, only 17% of Shapiro supporters and 14% of Vollmer’s think their candidates would be the strongest in November.

  • Van Hollen has impressed primary voters with his legislative accomplishments.  When asked why they support him, voters are likely to mention specific issue positions or achievements in the General Assembly.  In fact, when the sample is narrowed to those who have firm impressions of both candidates, Van Hollen actually takes a five-point lead, 41% to 36% over Shriver.

  • Shriver has made deep inroads into the African-American community, which is increasingly important in the re-drawn district.  By more than three-to-one, Shriver is viewed as “more experienced” by African-Americans, while more than four in ten say they have never heard the name “Van Hollen.”

Survey questionnaire.

For complete coverage and analysis, please see related news stories in The (Baltimore) Sun and The Gazette.

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