Red Maryland recently published the results of a poll of upcoming Republican primaries. The results are in line with my recent predictions for the primaries in two Eastern Shore districts. Incumbent Sen. Steve Hershey leads former Del. Richard Sossi in District 36. Del. Addie Eckhardt has a good chance to unseat incumbent Sen. Richard Colburn in neighboring District 37.
The key caveat–and why I am not making any ratings changes based on these polls–is that the number of respondents in each district is low. In the Hershey-Sossi race, there are just 87 respondents and in the Colburn-Eckardt race, there are only 58. Another problem is that figuring out who will vote in these low turnout events is not easy.
Indeed, based on this many respondents, the difference in support for Colburn and Eckardt is not statistically significant. Put another way, there is a more than 1 in 20 chance that the difference in support among actual voters is zero or that Colburn actually leads Eckardt.
On the other hand, the sample size and the differences in the levels of support for the two candidates are large enough in the Hershey-Sossi race to indicate that Sossi probably really does trail Hershey. The small number of respondents renders the actual size of Hershey’s lead unclear–the range around the estimated level of support for either is huge. But one can say that Hershey is ahead by some amount greater than zero with reasonable certainty.