Gonzales: Van Hollen 42, Edwards 41

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John Fritze and Pamela Wood have the first look at a new Gonzales poll that shows a continuing close race between Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards in the Senate primary.

The race for Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski’s seat in the U.S. Senate remains a toss up, making Maryland’s contest among the most competitive Democratic primaries in the nation, a poll released Tuesday has found.

Rep. Donna F. Edwards of Prince George’s County and Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County, the two leading candidates battling for the Democratic nomination, are within the margin of error, according to the Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies poll.

Tuesday’s survey was the third in as many months to find a razor-thin margin in the contest. Forty-two percent of respondents are supporting Van Hollen, 41 percent are backing Edwards and 15 percent are undecided.

Van Hollen, who represents the 8th Congressional District, is leading Edwards among men, white voters and in the politically important Baltimore suburbs. Edwards, who represents the 4th Congressional District, is winning with women, African Americans and Baltimore City voters. Both candidates have high support in their respective home territories of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

Taking a look at the key question of African-American turnout, Gonzales’ Democratic sample is 50% white and 43% black, as compared to the recent Goucher poll which had a 48-45% split and Edwards leading 39-37%. The fact that even this small change could shift the race by 3% shows how significant of a factor the racial composition of the electorate will be.

The numbers are stark in other ways than race: geography and gender show notable patterns as well.

In the presidential race, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders, 57-26, including an eye-popping 71-10% among African-American voters.

The entire poll memo is here. Democratic primary margin of error is +/- 5%.

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