Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Gonzales Research, a well-known, well-respected Maryland-based survey research firm, has just this morning released a statewide poll of 813 likely voters. The poll covers the races for President and US Senate, as well as ballot issues related to Dream Act privileges, gay marriage and gambling.
According to the poll, which was conducted between the 17th and 23rd of this month, after Independent Rob Sobhani started running television commercials to introduce himself to Maryland voters, incumbent Democrat Ben Cardin will get 50% of the vote and Republican challenger Dan Bongino only 22%, just one point better than the 21% showing by Independent Rob Sobhani who didn’t enter the race until earlier this month. The margin of error is 3.5%.
Only 7% are undecided, not enough to make any difference. What the poll didn’t attempt to determine is how many voters indicating a preference for Cardin might be willing to change their minds.
More to the point, consider the breakdown by voter affiliation. 56.3% of the 813 participants were Democrats, 30.1% Republicans and 13.5% Independents, meaning that they do not consider themselves to be affiliated with either major party. Here, in a table taken directly from the Gonzales report, is how these three groups broke for the candidates.
It’s not complicated. Cardin is getting almost three-quarters of the Democrat vote, almost 40% of the Independent vote and a few Republicans. Add up those pieces, he’s expected to get half, 50% the total vote “were the election held today.” But it’s not, being held today that is, and a lot can happen in the next six weeks.
Unfortunately for Rob Sobhani, Republican Dan Bongino’s campaign is having near zero impact on Cardin’s favorite son party support. Despite months of campaigning, mostly pitched to his base which may be the problem, Democrats just aren’t interested in Bongino’s candidacy. Unless substantial, unexpected money shows up on Dan Bongino’s September 30 FEC report, his campaign has had it. These poll results, showing him to be 29 points behind the incumbent, have just killed any chance he had to get RNC and NRSC (National Republican Senatorial Committee) money.
Without big money behind him, if Dan Bongino’s campaign hasn’t caught on by now, it’s not going to. Too bad. Were Dan Bongino a more effective candidate, he might have been able to attract enough Democrats to push Cardin’s share of the total vote low enough so that Rob Sobhani could squeeze out a win with a percentage of the votes under 40%. That’s got to be Rob Sobhani’s objective. He’s just going to have to do the heavy lifting himself.
“How’s that?” It’s simple really. Rob Sobhani, starting immediately, needs to use every dollar he’s got to go after Ben Cardin. In a straightforward, entirely honest, matter-of-fact, professional way, in every speech, press conference, radio show call-in and op/ed piece, and in every commercial he runs, Rob Sobhani has got to look prospective voters in their eyes and tell them what a huge waste of time and money Ben Cardin’s first term in the Senate has been. Senator Cardin’s lack of legislative productivity. His demonstrated failure to focus on, or even understand, the major economic, fiscal and social issues of our time. The millions of dollars of special interest PAC money his campaigns have received – for precisely what in return? (Sobhani makes a point about not taking special interest money.) Say nothing inaccurate that can’t be easily verified. Rob Sobhani, with just the right tone, has got to go “honest negative” in a compelling way with everything he’s got.
And in the process, he also has to dismiss Dan Bongino as too inexperienced to effectively represent Marylanders in Washington. Rob Sobhani needs more of Dan Bongino’s Republican and Independent votes, and needs to portray Dan Bongino as a sure loser – politically, not personally – for whom votes are wasted if replacing Ben Cardin is the objective.
Needless to say, it’s essential that Rob Sobhani make sure that he’s included in any debates with Ben Cardin and Dan Bongino.
Dan Bongino doesn’t have the money or the message, and Cardin himself certainly isn’t going to voluntarily discuss his own shortcomings. That leaves Rob Sobhani with a whole lot of ground to make up. If he doesn’t point out the reasons why Ben Cardin has failed to earn re-election, no one will and that will be that.