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A new poll taken for the Republican nominee in the race to replace Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R) suggests that Democrats have some work to do if they want to make the election as competitive as they think it will be.

The poll, conducted for state Sen. Andy Harris (R) — who defeated Gilchrest in a contentious February primary — had Harris with 44 percent of the vote to 28 percent for the Democratic nominee, Queen Anne County State’s Attorney Frank Kratovil. Fully 27 percent of the electorate was undecided.

The single-day poll of 300 registered voters, taken July 15 by Arthur J. Finkelstein & Associates, had a 6-point margin of error.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has placed the 1st district race on its “Red to Blue” list of contests that get extra attention as well as special fundraising and infrastructure help from national Democrats. Part of the DCCC’s calculation is that despite the GOP lean of the Eastern Shore district, moderate Republicans and independents will be turned off by the way that Gilchrest was treated in the primary; Gilchrest has refused to endorse Harris, and some of his top associates are working to elect Kratovil.

But in a polling memo, Finkelstein wrote that Kratovil will be hurt because of his “liberal positions and close ties” to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), whose poll numbers have sagged statewide in recent months.

Still, the Republican poll suggested that neither candidate is especially well-known, meaning that both have room for growth.

Harris was viewed favorably by 37 percent of those surveyed and unfavorably by almost 12 percent. Thirty-eight percent of those questioned had no opinion of the lawmaker, and 13 percent said they had never heard of him. Kratovil was viewed favorably and unfavorably by 14 percent of the voters; 48 percent had no opinion, and 24 percent said they had never heard of him.

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