Gov. Larry Hogan (R) remains popular, but fewer Marylanders are planning to vote for him, new polling figures show.
According to a Goucher Poll released Tuesday morning, 61 percent of Marylanders approve or strongly approve of the job Hogan is doing as governor. That’s nearly the same as the same poll showed one year ago, 63 percent.
But the number of Marylanders who plan to vote for the governor has declined in an election year when seven Democratic candidates are challenging the Republican governor. About 47 percent of likely voters polled said they would “definitely” or are “leaning toward” voting for the governor this year. That’s a 10-point drop since the same question was asked in February 2017.
Looming over the 2018 election are the actions of Congress and President Donald Trump.
Congress as a whole retains a sliver of approval among Marylanders, 11 percent, though 62 percent strongly disapprove of the body.
Trump found support among 27 percent of Marylanders, with 12 percent strongly approving of his job performance. Fifty-seven percent strongly disapproved.
Likely voters were divided on how much influence their views of Trump would influence their vote for governor. Thirty-eight percent said their views on Trump would influence their vote for governor “some” or “a lot,” and 60 percent said their views toward the president would have little or no influence on their vote.
Pollsters also asked whether respondents approved of the way Hogan distanced himself from the Trump administration. About 47 percent of those polled said Hogan has distanced himself “about the right amount” from Trump, while 22 percent said he’d done too little to create distance and 10 percent said he’d done too much.
The governor did not vote for Trump, instead casting a ballot for his father. The governor has criticized Trump for his purported derisive comments about African nations and the way he responded to deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year. He has also opposed the president’s positions on health care reform, offshore drilling and other environmental policies.
About half of likely voters said they considered Hogan a moderate.
“Governor Hogan’s reelection chances in blue Maryland are closely tied to the public perception that he is a moderate Republican who has distanced himself from Washington politics,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center that conducts the poll at Goucher College, in a press release. “The specter of an unpopular president with shared party affiliation still looms as potential political problem for Mr. Hogan as about a third of Maryland voters say their views toward the president will influence their vote for governor.”
According to a breakdown of the poll, Hogan was a favored candidate by independents, Republicans, men, white Marylanders and those over 35 years old, among the group polled. Democrats, women, young people, and black and minority Marylanders favored a Democratic candidate.
Hogan’s support came primarily from central and rural Maryland, while voters in the D.C. suburbs favored a Democratic candidate.
About 60 percent of all Marylanders polled held a positive view of the state’s economic situation — an important factor in determining the outcome of gubernatorial elections — and 62 percent said the state is “heading in the right direction,” up seven points from September, when the question was last asked.
When asked about the single most important issue for determining their choice for governor, 28 percent of respondents said economy and jobs, 24 percent said education, and 13 percent said health care.
The poll also sought the approval ratings of Maryland’s senators. Thirty-seven percent approve of the job Sen. Chris Van Hollen is doing, while 44 percent approved of Sen. Ben Cardin, who is up for re-election in 2018.
The Goucher Poll asked 800 residents their opinions between Feb. 12 and 17. The poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.