Van Hollen holds 6-point lead over Edwards: poll

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) holds a 6-point lead over Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) in the primary race for retiring Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiBottom line How the US can accelerate progress on gender equity Former Md. senator Paul Sarbanes dies at 87 MORE’s (D-Md.) seat, a new poll released Tuesday finds.

A new NBC4/Marist Maryland Poll found Van Hollen leads Edwards, 44 percent to 38 percent, while 18 percent of voters remain undecided.

Van Hollen overwhelmingly wins among older, white male voters, 62 percent to Edwards’s 21 percent, while she performs significantly better with African-American voters, 59 percent to 22 percent.

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Van Hollen and Edwards are in a heated primary battle. The congressman is seen as the establishment favorite and was endorsed early last year by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Edwards has received endorsements from progressive groups such as Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee; late last year EMILY’s List, which backs Edwards, released a TV ad highlighting her progressive record.

Edwards also scored an endorsement from former NAACP President Ben Jealous. His support was a boost for the black congresswoman after she was snubbed in February by the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, which voted not to endorse her.

Van Hollen’s campaign has also touted a series of endorsements from civil rights leaders in the state, including several local Maryland NAACP chapters.

Van Hollen has significantly outpaced Edwards in fundraising, though she announced last week she had raised more than $1.2 million in the first quarter of 2016. According to fundraising reports, Van Hollen ended last year with about $3.6 million in cash on hand, compared to Edwards, who was just shy of $300,000.

Yet several recent polls showed the race in a dead heat, and a survey from The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore found Edwards leading Van Hollen by 6 points. The primary is on April 26.

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The seat is seen as safe for Democrats, though several Republicans have also entered the race, including state Del. Kathy Szeliga; Chrys Kefalas, a former aide to Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr.; former Pentagon official Richard Douglas; and businessman Joe Hooe.

In the Tuesday survey, Szeliga led with 20 percent, followed by Douglas, at 13 percent, and Kefalas, at 9 percent. But more than half of likely GOP primary voters, 57 percent, were undecided.

The poll was conducted in April and surveyed 2,563 registered voters. The poll surveyed 755 likely Democratic primary voters and the margin of error was 3.5 points. The poll also surveyed 368 likely GOP primary voters and the margin of error was 5.1 points.