The race for Maryland's 1st District has been run practically since the day Frank Kratovil assumed office. Representing a strongly Republican, primarily rural Eastern Shore district, he expected to face tough competition in his re-election bid this year. Hailing from the Eastern shore himself, he had been given some advantage against former Republican opponent, state Sen. Andy Harris, who called the more western section of the District home. But in facing Harris again, Kratovil may have hoped to see a more competitive race, given the previous outcome.
A new poll released by Monmouth University suggests otherwise. The latest Monmouth poll shows Harris with an 11-point lead over the incumbent. Kratovil finds 42 percent of voters support him, to Harris' much more robust 53 percent; only 5 percent remain undecided. The poll was fielded Oct. 16 to Oct. 19 and contains a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.
Harris is polling high with men (63 percent) and voters ages 18-44 (62 percent). While each pulls in a party ID of roughly 84 percent to 86 percent each with a crossover vote of 11 percent, the independents are much more strongly trending toward Harris, 58 percent to 34 percent. Harris is only winning the female vote, 52 percent to 43 percent, and slightly among voters age 45 to 59, with 49 percent to Harris' 47 percent.
Despite trying to side according to the wishes of voters on key measures by voting no on the health care bill, Kratovil is carrying a bad negative perception, as is President Barack Obama in the district. Voters with a favorable opinion gave him 37 percent approval to a 44 percent unfavorable with 19 percent stating no opinion. Again, the independents were strongly lopsidedly against Kratovil, 55 percent to 29 percent. President Obama finds himself with 32 percent approving and 64 percent disapproving of his job performance, likely a factor in influencing the negative opinion of the incumbent candidate.
Meanwhile, Harris is trying to tie up lose ends in the homestretch to clinch victory. His website touts a new endorsement from the National Taxpayers Union. Kratovil is countering with new endorsements of his own on his site, from the NRA and the Harford County newspaper Aegis. Both seem determined to make their willingness to part from the agendas of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama a key aspect of their campaign. Both sites mention the October 17th forum debate at Queen Anne's County High School, where Kratovil stressed his voting record of independence from leadership. Harris, for his part, continued to tie Kratovil to their policies.
Despite a hard fought campaign, unless a major event occurs to shake up the election, Harris is favored to claim the seat for the party.