A new poll released Thursday shows that state Sen. Catherine Pugh has surged into the lead in the Baltimore mayoral race, leading former Mayor Sheila Dixon by six percentage point with less than three weeks remaining before the April 26 Democratic primary.
Conducted by OpinionWorks, an Annapolis-based firm, for The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore, the survey shows Pugh as the top choice of 31 percent of the 400 likely voters surveyed. Dixon came in second, earning the support of 25 percent of likely Democratic primary voters.
Elizabeth Embry, who served as chief of the criminal division in the Maryland state’s attorney general’s office before running for office, came in third with 9 percent of the tally. She was followed by investor and philanthropist David Warnock at 7 percent. City Councilmen Carl Stokes and Nick Mosby each received the support of 5 percent of those polled. DeRay Mckesson, a national Black Lives Matter activist with Baltimore roots recently endorsed by John Waters, and the rest of the field received less than 1 percent support. Fourteen percent of likely Democratic voters remain undecided.
"Senator Pugh is clearly the one in command now in this race," Steve Raabe, president of OpinionWorks, told The Sun. "She is leading and widening her lead."
Dixon campaign manager Anthony Jones pushed back against the poll results, saying that the survey failed to include 20,000 ex-offenders, who had recently received the right to vote. He also noted that the same pollster had been wrong about the most Maryland governor’s race three weeks before that election.
“When The Sun poll was taken over last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, we had just begun our advertising campaign, whereas our opponents had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars driving their message on the airwaves in the previous six weeks before the poll,” Jones said in an email release. “We are confident that Sheila Dixon's proven track record of reducing crime and her deep connection to the community will be at the forefront of voters’ minds as they head to the polls starting a week from today.”
Embry’s campaign manager, on the other hand, noting the poll showed his candidate moving several others into third place, said in an email that time still remains in the race for more changes.
“Thirty-eight percent of voters are still soft in their support for other candidates and might change their vote,” Coon said. “The race is still very fluid and Elizabeth has room to grow.”
Pugh, however, was also the leading “second choice” among likely voters with 23 percent of that tally, followed by Dixon at 12 percent.
For the first time ever, the mayor’s race is coinciding with the presidential election, which is expected to boost turnout at the primary. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an unexpectedly competitive race with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, announced today that she will be making a campaign stop in Maryland Sunday.
Also coinciding with the mayor’s race is a very competitive U.S. Senate race between U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards and U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen.
Early primary voting in Maryland begins April 14 with same-day registration offered during the early voting period—which continues through April 21— for the first time ever this year. Early voting centers in the state can be found here.