With 34 state primaries and caucuses in the books, the 2016 presidential race will soon be coming to Maryland. And while Marylanders won’t cast their primary votes until April 26, a recent poll suggests that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have an early advantage in the state.
The Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, which was released April 7, gives Clinton a strong 15-point lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders. While Clinton’s lead is smaller than what it was in a Baltimore Sun-University of Baltimore poll from last month, the former secretary of state has led in every poll conducted in the state this cycle.
Clinton’s lead in Maryland doesn’t come as a big surprise, since the state’s diverse Democratic electorate resembles that of many of the states she’s won.
According to an April 7 Washington Post article about the poll, one third of Maryland Democrats are African American. Clinton has a strong advantage among that demographic, leading Sanders 63 percent to 33 percent. She also leads among women voters, 60 percent to 35 percent. For Sanders, his strengths in the state resemble how he has performed in many other states — he leads Clinton among voters under the age 40 with 61 percent of the vote, compared to just 38 percent for Clinton.
While Sanders has struggled to win votes among women and minorities, his supporters are impressed with the progress he has made with these demographics. Junior government and politics major Christopher Walkup, the president of Terps for Bernie, is confident that Sanders’ standing among these groups will continue to improve as they learn more about his policies.
“I do not expect Bernie to win these groups over Clinton,” Walkup said. “But only a few months ago, his support was in single digits among African Americans, while now it tops 30 percent. The more these groups hear about Sanders’ history and platform, the more they choose him over Clinton.”
Sanders has just under three weeks to trim his deficit in Maryland, but Walkup is confident that he’ll be able to compete with Clinton in the state. Walkup points to states like Illinois — where Sanders shot upwards in the polls as the primary got closer — as evidence that the Vermont senator can beat Clinton in Maryland.
“We still have 2 1/2 weeks to close the gap even further, but the [Washington Post-University of Maryland] poll makes me think that we might not just lose Maryland by 10 points — we have a shot at winning,” Walkup said. “Sanders tends to outperform polls by several points, and as primaries get closer and closer his numbers continue to rise.”
On the Republican side, Trump leads Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) by 10 points. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sits in third place with 22 percent of the vote, according to the poll.
The poll surveyed just 283 likely Republican voters and has a margin of error of 7.5 percentage points, so Trump’s lead should be taken with a significant grain of salt. But the real-estate mogul continues to lead Cruz at the national level and has led Maryland in every Maryland poll this since November.
Freshman physics major Jared Dobry isn’t surprised that Trump has such a commanding lead over Kasich and Cruz. Dobry believes that Trump’s air of invincibility might have convinced others to vote against Kasich, who has only won one state in the primary season — his home state of Ohio.
“I think that the media has definitely influenced people’s opinion to think that, to a certain point,” Dobry said. “There would have to be a brokered convention for him to even have a chance at winning the nomination, so I think a lot of people are giving up on Kasich.”
For Democrats, 95 delegates are at stake in the Maryland primary and all of them will be awarded proportionately. For Republicans, the candidate who wins the state will receive 14 of 38 total delegates. The remaining delegates will be distributed in sets of three to the candidates who win in each of the state’s eight congressional districts.
During a normal presidential election cycle, the nominees would likely have been all but decided by the time the Maryland primary rolls around. This time, however, the state’s elections carry more weight, especially for the Republican race, which could be decided at a brokered convention this summer. For Trump, Cruz and Kasich, every delegate counts.