A new poll by Goucher College found most state residents think a governor should rarely deploy an executive order to change policy, but a majority support Gov. Larry Hogan's use of one to start school after Labor Day.
The poll released Monday is the first public survey on the topic since Hogan, a Republican, defied education leaders and announced that next year school will begin after the holiday and conclude by June 15.
Although a longer summer has polled well for years, Hogan's use of an executive order to achieve it drew widespread condemnation from Democrats and others. Attorney General Brian Frosh's office questioned whether it would hold up in court.
But while the Goucher Poll found 54 percent of respondents said an executive order should be used "rarely or never," Hogan's use of it has not dampened enthusiasm for the policy. About 68 percent of residents backed the later start date, according to the survey by the university's Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center.
"When the outcome itself is popular, people are less opposed to the use of executive orders," said Mileah Kromer, director of the center. "That policy, in and of itself, is popular."
National polls saw a similar trend with the controversial executive orders of President Barack Obama, where people oppose the use of executive orders except for when it accomplishes something they support.
The Goucher survey also said Hogan's repudiation of fellow Republican Donald Trump's presidential candidacy has had a beneficial political effect for Maryland's governor. Hogan has said he would not vote for Trump, drawing outrage from some of his supporters in Maryland.
"There's been a lot of speculation that this would hurt him with Republicans," Kromer said. "It hasn't. Half of Marylanders don't care, and 44 percent like him better for it. So, this was a good move."
The poll of 668 Maryland residents has a 3.8 percentage point margin of error.
The survey also found:
Hogan's approval ratings remain high, at 70 percent.
President Barack Obama's approval rating is high, at 66 percent.
Twenty-two percent of residents, a plurality, think education is the most important issue facing the state.
When Hogan and the Democrats leading the General Assembly do not cooperate, 67 percent of residents hold the governor and the lawmakers equally at fault.
Among those who have heard at least a little a bout the natural gas extraction method known as fracking, 43 percent support banning it, 32 oppose a ban and 24 percent are undecided.
Eighty percent of residents disapprove of Congress.