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Poll: Hogan approval ratings remain high amid low marks for Trump

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan remains popular in Democratic Maryland, where he is largely viewed as a moderate who has taken the state in the right direction, a new poll has found.

About 62 percent of state residents approve of the job Hogan is doing as governor, according to Goucher Poll results released Monday. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats approve of his work.

At the same time, more than a quarter of Hogan’s GOP base believes the governor has put too much distance between himself and President Donald J. Trump, a fellow Republican.

The distance, analysts say, might have worked to Hogan’s advantage.

Trump’s disapproval ratings have climbed since the February poll. But he’s still more popular than Congress.

About 71 percent of people surveyed disapproved of Trump’s tenure. Fifty-six percent said they strongly disapproved. Ninety-three percent of Democrats disapproved of the president’s work so far. Seventy-one percent of independents and 21 percent of Republicans disapproved.

Pollsters interviewed 671 Maryland adults from Sept. 14 through 17. Five hundred thirty-three said they were registered voters. The survey has a 3.8 percentage-point margin of error.

Although 28 percent of Republicans think Hogan has distanced himself too much from Trump, it hasn’t dampened GOP enthusiasm for the governor. The governor’s approval rating among Republicans is 82 percent.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in Maryland by more than two to one.

Hogan’s popularity is driven by ”just consistency,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, which conducted the poll.

“People like hearing a clear, consistent economic message from the governor,” she said.

Most of the poll’s findings painted a positive picture of Hogan’s reelection chances in 2018.

A majority of registered voters — 51 percent — say they either plan to vote for Hogan, or are “leaning” toward doing so. The poll found a 6 percentage-point uptick since February in the percentage of voters who say they’ll definitely vote for someone else. That group now represents 21 percent of respondents.

“If we were going to see some sort of Trump effect, you would have expected it to show up by now,” said Todd Eberly, political science professor at St. Mary’s College.

“His approval rating fell among Republicans, and I have to imagine some of that is the party base upset about him breaking with Trump, upset about” Hogan’s support for removing the statue of former Chief Justice Roger B. Taney from the State House grounds, Eberly said. “I don't think that in 2018 that would make them go out and vote for a Democrat.”

Seven Democrats have announced plans to run against Hogan: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, former NAACP CEO Ben Jealous, Baltimore lawyer Jim Shea, author and tech entrepreneur Alec Ross, and Krish Vignarajah, a former aide to Michelle Obama.

A growing number of residents think the state is on the wrong track, but they’re still in the minority.

“Folks are a little bit less optimistic about the direction of the state,” Kromer said. “It's always difficult to disentangle what exactly that’s about.”

Fifty-five percent of respondents thought Maryland was on the right track. Most of the people who felt that way were also Hogan supporters.

The percentage of respondents pessimistic about the state’s direction increased by nine percentage points since the February poll.

Twenty-four percent said the economy was the most important issue facing the state. Fourteen percent thought education was the top issue, and 10 percent worried most about crime and criminal justice.

Hogan focused on pocketbook issues during his 2014 campaign, and has hewed closely to financial and business issues during his first two and a half years in office. Poll respondents were generally optimistic about Maryland’s economy. Fifty-seven percent said they felt “mostly positive” about it.

Residents don’t agree on where Hogan falls on the ideological spectrum. A little less than half of all residents, 45 percent, identified Hogan as a moderate, but about a third, 31 percent, thought he was conservative. Seven percent defined him as a liberal.

There were also mixed views among residents about Hogan’s place within broader Republican politics.

Forty-four percent said he represented “the future” of the party, and 24 percent said he represented the past. (The rest thought he represented both, neither, or they didn’t know.)

Congress continued to have dismal approval ratings, reflecting a national mood about the effectiveness of federal lawmakers. About 88 percent of those surveyed disapproved of the job Congress was doing. Fifty-nine percent said they “strongly disapprove.” That’s the most disillusionment with Congress since October 2013, when the federal government shut down amid a budget dispute.

ecox@baltsun.com

twitter.com/ErinatTheSun

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described how Hogan’s overall approval rating changed since the college’s February poll. It is statistically unchanged.

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