Gov. Larry Hogan's popularity increases, poll says

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's popularity has increased, a new poll from Goucher College found.

Gov. Larry Hogan enjoys growing popularity in Maryland as more residents make up their mind about the new Republican governor, a new Goucher College poll found.

The poll released Monday found 54 percent of those surveyed felt favorably about Hogan, a whopping 21 point increase from when the college conducted its previous poll in February.

The strong favorability rating in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 means the governor has considerable support from voters outside his own party.  More than half of the Democrats surveyed said they approved of the job Hogan was doing. Among Republicans, 80 percent did.

Although his popularity appears to be on the rise, nearly a third of those polled still don’t know how they view Hogan. The survey, conducted last week, polled 636 residents on a variety of topics and has a 3.9 percentage-point margin of error.

Hogan took office in January after an upset victory in November 2014, elected on a promise to curb state spending and roll back tax increases passed under the administration of then-Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat.

The poll suggests that many voters were unsure what to think of Hogan at first. Although he worked in and around politics his entire life, Hogan, 59, had never held elected office. 

During the first nine months of his tenure, the governor has tussled with the legislature over how much money should go to education instead of repaying the state debt, canceled plans for the Red Line in Baltimore, cut tolls on Maryland roads and decreased dozens of fees. Also during that time, Hogan revealed that doctors diagnosed him with stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has undergone five rounds of chemotherapy so far.

A significant majority – 58 percent – approve of the job Hogan is doing as governor, which is an 18 point increase from February. In an open-ended question, those polled were asked what word best described Hogan. The most common answers were “fair,” “honest” or “determined.”

A strong majority, 56 percent, found the state was moving in the right direction, an increase of 18 percentage points since the college’s survey a year ago.

The poll was conducted by Goucher’s Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center. Among the poll’s other findings:

  • 65 percent believe confederate memorials in Maryland should stay in place, despite increased public discussion to remove them.
  • Two thirds of those surveyed said they believed police in their community were held accountable for misconduct.
  • 53 percent said they paid “a lot” of attention to event surrounding the death of Freddie Gray. Another 29 percent said they paid “some” attention.
  • There was a sharp divide between how white and black people viewed the relevance of race in police encounters. Sixty percent of white people said all races receive equal treatment by police, while 68 percent of black respondents said they did not.
  • Education and taxes were the most important issues facing Maryland residents, followed closely by the economy.
  • President Barack Obama continued to enjoy strong approval ratings in the state, with 53 percent of those polled supporting the job he’s done and 38 against.
  • Congress’ approval ratings are up from a low in October 2013 during the economic shutdown, but they’re still dismal: only 9 percent of those polled approve of the job Congress has done; 89 percent do not.
  • Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed believe congressional districts should be drawn by an independent panel. They are currently drawn by elected officials, a process supported by 21 percent of respondents.
  • 72 percent of residents support beginning the school year after Labor Day, while 19 percent do not.   
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