A poll of likely Baltimore County voters taken for WBAL-TV shows Republican county executive candidate Roger B. Hayden in a virtual dead heat in his race against Democratic incumbent Dennis F. Rasmussen.
The poll of 431 registered voters showed Hayden with 43.6 percent support, to Rasmussen's 41 percent, with 15.4 percent still undecided. The three-day sample was taken Oct. 22-24 and was prepared by Western Maryland College professor Herbert Smith.
The poll has a 5 percent margin of error either way, however, meaning there could be a 10-point difference in the spread, according to WBAL political analyst Theodore G. "Ted" Venetoulis, himself a former Baltimore County executive.
A Sun poll published Oct. 14 showed Rasmussen ahead by a 52-to-36 percent margin. The Sun poll was taken Oct. 4-11. The WBAL poll, released yesterday, is the first that has shown Hayden ahead in the race.
Of those who supported Hayden in the WBAL poll, only 21 percent said they were really advocates of the former school board president. Seventy-two percent of Hayden's supporters said they just wanted to vote against Rasmussen.
In addition, 42 percent of Rasmussen's supporters were solidly behind him, while only 27 percent of Hayden's supporters said they were fully committed to him.
When asked if they viewed each candidate in a favorable or unfavorable light, 43 percent of those polled rated Rasmussen favorably, 45 percent rated him unfavorably, and 12 percent had no opinion.
Some 30 percent viewed Hayden favorably, and only 8 percent viewed him unfavorably. A whopping 63 percent, however, said they did not know enough about Hayden to have an opinion of him. Venetoulis said those figures showed that Hayden's support is soft and more susceptible to change.