Our first look at the Maryland Governor's race finds the same thing all other polling on the race has: a pure tossup. Martin O'Malley leads Bob Ehrlich 45-42 in the rematch of their 2006 contest.
Voters are pretty evenly divided in their feelings about both O'Malley and Ehrlich. 42% of voters approve of the job O'Malley's doing while 43% disapprove. Voters within his own party are pretty tepid about him, giving him a 60% approval rating. His numbers with Republicans (7% approval) and independents (31/53) approval are dreadful but Maryland is such a Democratic state that he still almost breaks even overall.
Ehrlich is more popular within his own party, more popular with independents, and viewed more favorably across party lines than O'Malley is. 77% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of him, 21% of Democrats do, and independents split favorably in their feelings about him 41/34. But again because most voters in Maryland are Democrats that adds up only to breaking even.
In the head to head Ehrlich already has his party's vote pretty much nailed down, leading 87-6 among Republicans. He also has a 45-29 advantage with independents. O'Malley leads 66-21 with Democrats.
Ehrlich doesn't have much room to grow with his base- the voters who will decide this election are Democrats who aren't real thrilled with O'Malley. They make up the bulk of the undecideds and will ultimately have to choose whether to stay loyal to their party, hold their noses, and vote for O'Malley or cross over and vote for Ehrlich.
This poll is based on an electorate that supported Barack Obama by 23 points in 2008. He actually the won state by a little more than 25 points. That reflects greater Republican interest in voting this year but if O'Malley can get Democrats more engaged his prospects for reelection will improve.
Most voters have already decided who to vote for in this race and most voters already know what they think about both O'Malley and Ehrlich- that means the candidates will be spending a whole lot of money fighting over not a lot of votes for the next four months.
Full results here