Where they rank him highest is in communicating his priorities to the public: 58 percent say excellent or good, compared with 39 percent who say fair or poor.
"That's good for us," said Josh White, political director of the Maryland Democratic Party. "They know exactly what he wants, but the public doesn't like it."
While a majority of voters, 51 percent, approve of the way Ehrlich is handling his job, his numbers have slid in the past 15 months.
In January 2004, 56 percent of voters polled said they felt the governor was doing a good job, and 28 percent disapproved of his performance. The negative number has risen to 38 percent. Since January, his approval rating dropped 3 percentage points, and his disapproval rating swelled by 7 points.
The governor's favorability rating - a different measurement than job performance, in which voters were asked whether they have a favorable or unfavorable impression of a politician - has also dropped since January, the start of the legislative session.
Fifty-six percent of voters say they have a favorable impression of the governor, with 33 percent viewing him unfavorably, for a net positive rating of 23 percentage points. In January, his net rating was 41 percentage points.
O'Malley's favorability rating has also dropped. Five of 10 voters view him favorably, with 19 percent unfavorable, for a net rating of 31 percentage points. But his negative numbers have doubled in the past three months; he had a net favorability rating of 50 percentage points in January.
Ehrlich's job approval rating varies greatly with geography. In heavily Democratic Baltimore City, and Montgomery and Prince George's counties - three of the state's four largest jurisdictions - the governor is viewed negatively by 47 percent of voters, with 41 percent approving of his performance.
But everywhere else in the state, 21 other counties, he enjoys a 58 percent/32 percent approve/disapprove rating.
Matthew A. Crenson, a political science professor at the Johns Hopkins University, said it's a bad sign for Ehrlich that the number of people who disapprove of his job performance has gone up.
"He's antagonizing people," Crenson said. "Everything since January has come down pretty badly for the governor, beginning with the special session and then having such an unambitious agenda," he said.
Crenson sees little substantive basis for an Ehrlich re-election campaign, other than the $2.50 per month fee approved by the Assembly last year to help fix ailing sewage treatment plants.
"When he goes into 2006, he's just going to have nothing to point to except the flush tax," he said.
Sun staff writer Andrew A. Green contributed to this article.