Sobhani makes run at Bongino, while Cardin leads -- Gazette.Net


Republican candidate Dan Bongino and independent Rob Sobhani are in a virtual tie for second place in the U.S. Senate race in Maryland, but neither is positioned to oust Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, according to political analysts.

“It would have been very difficult in any case,” said Max Bambacus, professor emeritus in the political science department at Frostburg State University. “Senator Cardin has been in public office nearly his entire life, and he has an experienced campaign staff.”

Cardin leads Bongino, 50 percent to 22 percent, with Sobhani, a former Republican senatorial candidate running as an independent, at 21 percent, according to the most recent report from pollster Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies of Annapolis. The poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

With his self-financed campaign, Sobhani has managed to buy substantial name recognition through TV ads, but that is not going to be enough to defeat Cardin, Bambacus said.

Bongino has not been able to raise enough money to compete on TV, Bambacus said. Both the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore TV markets are among the most expensive in the nation, but campaigns have to spend about 90 percent of their war chests in those markets to reach the majority of Maryland voters, Bambacus said.

Cardin leads among Democrats and independents, while Sobhani is eating into Bongino’s Republican support, said Patrick Gonzales, founder of the polling firm. Bongino is supported by 60 percent of Republicans, while Sobhani counts 22.4 percent of his support from Republicans.

Cardin also does well with black and female voters, Gonzales said.

Among women, Cardin gets 58 percent of the vote compared with 15 percent for Bongino’s and 18.5 percent for Sobhani.

Maryland voters also support the re-election of President Barack Obama.

Gonzales conducted the poll of registered voters between Sept. 17 and Sunday.

The poll also addressed the state’s referendums.

The ballot question to allow undocumented immigrants, who have filed state taxes and graduated from Maryland high schools, to be eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges had the support of 57.8 percent of those polled, while 34.3 percent were opposed and 7.9 percent were undecided.

The initiative, known as the Dream Act, had significant support among Democrats at 74.9 percent, while 29 percent of Republicans were for it. Two-thirds of women polled supported the measure, while 47.9 percent of men backed it.

The referendum question to allow gay couples to obtain a civil marriage license was supported by 50.9 percent of the voters. According to the poll, 42.8 percent were opposed, with 6 percent undecided.

Some 44 percent of blacks approved of the initiative, up from a January poll that showed 33 percent in support. The jump in support suggests public statements in favor of gay marriage by Obama and others have had an impact, Gonzales said.

The electorate was divided on whether to expand gambling in the state, with 46.1 percent opposed, 44.6 percent in support.