Rep. Donna Edwards leads fellow Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen in the race for U.S. Senate in Maryland, according to a new Washington Post-University of Maryland Poll released Friday.
Edwards, of Fort Washington, leads Van Hollen, of Kensington, by 10 percentage points – 38 percent to 28 percent – the survey found.
This poll is the first to be conducted independently of the campaigns.
“These results certainly counter the perceived advantage that appeared to initially go to Van Hollen as the establishment-supported candidate,” said Stella Rouse, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for American Politics and Citizenship.
An earlier poll, released in August by the Edwards campaign, showed Edwards with a five-point lead over Van Hollen.
“Donna’s lead in the polls continues to grow because she’s the only progressive fighter in this race willing take on the special interests that stand in the way of progress for Maryland’s middle class families,” said Ben Gerdes, communications director for the Edwards campaign.
The poll also shows that if Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, entered the race, he would have a substantial lead over both Edwards and Van Hollen.
Thirty-three percent of the 550 Democratic voters questioned in the poll said they would vote for Cummings. Edwards and Van Hollen both earned 20 percent of the vote in the hypothetical three-person race.
“It seems that the strength of Baltimore politics is being felt,” Rouse said. “It will be interesting to see whether these numbers help persuade Cummings to enter the race.”
Cummings has said that he will not make his decision about entering the race until after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies in front of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, on which he is the ranking member.
Another important highlight in the poll is the large number of voters who remain undecided if Cummings does not enter the race: more than 30 percent of the Democratic voters polled haven’t settled on Edwards or Van Hollen.
“In the time until the election a great deal can change. But these results are nothing short of fascinating,” Michael Hanmer, research director for the Maryland center, said in a statement. “Whether Representative Cummings runs or not, this is going to be an interesting and tightly contested race.”
The Van Hollen campaign does not view the recent poll results as a setback.
“This poll reflects what everyone has always known — the campaign depends on the battle for the undecided voters in the Baltimore area,” Van Hollen campaign manager Sheila O’Connell said in a statement.
The Van Hollen campaign aired its first television advertisement last week in the Baltimore media market, a step aimed at helping the congressman’s polling numbers.
“The Post poll was conducted before our campaign aired its first television ad in Baltimore. We have growing endorsements in the area, from respected legislators to grassroots activists,” O’Connell said.
The poll comes on the heels of the end of the financial quarter, which began July 1 and ended September 30.
The Van Hollen campaign raised $950,000 in the third quarter of the year, and now has $4.1 million in the bank.
“As Chris travels to every corner of the state, he is hearing from voters about the issues that matter to them. Their support and generosity is humbling,” O’Connell said.
Although Van Hollen continues to dominate the financial side of the race, his third quarter numbers include a 63 percent decrease from the $2.6 million raised in the previous quarter.
The Edwards campaign has not made its third quarter numbers public, although the Oct. 15 filing deadline with the Federal Election Commission has just passed.
Senate candidates file on paper and the FEC says it can take up to 48 hours to get the information scanned and available to the public on its website.
By DYLAN REFFE