Poll finds Glendening has edge in city CAMPAIGN 1994--THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR

August 31, 1994|By Robert Timberg | Robert Timberg,Sun Staff Writer

Parris N. Glendening, Prince George's County executive, has taken a commanding lead over three rivals for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and gained the edge in the vote-rich Baltimore metropolitan area, a new Maryland Poll shows.

On the Republican side, U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley remains the clear front-runner, but state Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey has sliced into her lead and may be in position to challenge for the nomination in the final two weeks before the Sept. 13 primary election.

In a head-to-head pairing of the two leaders, Mr. Glendening has moved ahead of Mrs. Bentley 43 percent to 37 percent, with 20 percent undecided, in a matchup that has seesawed for the past three months.

After dropping to fourth place among Democrats in last month's Maryland Poll, Melvin A. Stein- berg, building on five weeks of television advertising, has reclaimed the second spot, but Mr. Glendening's strength is so broad that the lieutenant governor's resurgence seems modest at best.

But the Steinberg campaign, through spokesman M. Hirsh Goldberg, challenged the poll's results, saying its own survey this past weekend shows Mr. Glendening with a narrower lead, the lieutenant governor gaining ground and most voters either ,, "weakly aligned or undecided."

The Maryland Poll, conducted by phone Friday through Sunday by Mason-Dixon Political Media Research of Columbia, for The Sun and other news organizations, queried 824 voters statewide who said they vote regularly in state elections. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percent.

For the party primary portion, smaller samples of likely primary election voters were used. For the 421 Democrats polled, the margin of error was 4.8 percent; among the 228 Republicans, the margin 6.6 percent.

Because the survey was taken last weekend, Monday night's 90-minute prime time televised debate was not a factor in the poll. Maryland Public Television, which televised the forum statewide, said an estimated 33,000 households were tuned in at least part of the time.

Mr. Glendening, backed by 43 percent of poll respondents, had more support than his three major Democratic opponents combined. He led in the populous Baltimore and suburban Washington regions as well as in rural areas of the state.

BMr. Steinberg stood at 16 percent, up five points from July. State Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski of Baltimore was supported by 10 percent of Democratic respondents, falling from second place and losing six points since July, while State Sen. Mary H. Boergers of Montgomery County dropped into single digits with 8 percent, down four points.

Pleased with results

The undecided vote stood at 21 percent and lesser-known Democrats received 2 percent.

In the Baltimore area, Mr. Glendening was supported by 30 percent of respondents, compared with 21 percent for Mr. Steinberg, of Baltimore County, 16 percent for Mr. Miedusiewski and 8 percent for Ms. Boergers.

Mr. Glendening enjoys a huge lead in his suburban Washington political base, with 68 percent support to Mr. Steinberg's 8 percent, Mr. Miedusiewski's 2 percent and Ms. Boergers' 11 percent.

Emily Smith, Mr. Glendening's campaign manager, said she was pleased with the results, but added, "We're not taking anything for granted."

She said Mr. Glendening's surveys, contrary to the July Maryland Poll, have had Mr. Steinberg in second place for months. The most recent Glendening poll is consistent with the latest Mason-Dixon results, she said.

Mr. Goldberg, the Steinberg spokesman, said the lieutenant governor was pleased with the poll's results, now sees the race between Mr. Glendening and himself and expects to expand his standing in suburban Washington when he begins TV ads there today.

But Mr. Goldberg also questioned the poll's accuracy, saying the size of the Democratic sample was too small to get an accurate reading. He said the poll taken for Mr. Steinberg over the weekend queried 850 voters and showed Mr. Glendening in the 30s, Mr. Steinberg in the 20s. He declined to be more specific.

State Sen. James C. Simpson, Mr. Steinberg's lieutenant governor running mate, was more blunt in his criticism, employing a barnyard epithet to describe the Maryland Poll and saying The Sun had distorted it "to benefit their editorial choices." The newspaper has endorsed Mr. Glendening.

Mr. Miedusiewski said the poll results reflect the ability of the more well-heeled Democrats -- Mr. Glendening and Mr. Steinberg -- to air TV ads. He said he was not discouraged and would soon be "going toe to toe in the TV market" with the leaders.

'Big impact'

Mrs. Boergers' press secretary, Claire Hassett, said she expects the senator's first television ads, which go on the air Sunday, to have "a big impact." She added, "We've said from the beginning that the only polls we care about are the ones that open and close on Election Day."

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