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Marylanders are unsure about Gov. Larry Hogan, poll says

Most Maryland residents don't know what to think about Gov. Larry Hogan, according to a new Goucher College poll released Wednesday.

More than 45 percent said they have neither a favorable or unfavorable view of the new governor. And 43.3 percent say they don't know what they think about the job he's done during his first month in office.

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The uncertainty about Hogan, a Republican, comes largely from Maryland's Democratic and independent voters. More than half of each group said they "don't know" how they view him. More than 70 percent of Republicans, meanwhile, view him favorably.

While Hogan may be an unknown figure to many voters, the poll showed they have clear opinions on some of the initiatives he's pressed while in office. Hogan introduced a budget that trims future increases in education and rolls back a raise given to state employees.

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Asked what they would cut if they had to cut spending, 10.2 percent said they would trim the salaries of government workers and eliminate state jobs -- the most popular answer. Asked what should not be cut, 56.8 percent said education spending should be spared.

The poll also registered a shift in optimism among Maryland residents. Now, 53.5 percent of those surveyed think the state is headed in the right direction, up from 37.7 percent in September when the poll was last conducted.

The results were part of a wide-ranging telephone survey of 619 Maryland residents by the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center. It was conducted between Feb. 15 to Feb. 19. The Goucher Poll also found:

  • 42.3 percent supported a ban on the extraction of natural gas process known as fracking, while 38.9 percent opposed it.
  • 52.2 percent support legalizing marijuana while 43.9 percent do not.
  • Residents rank tobacco, alcohol and sugar more damaging your health than marijuana.
  • 45.6 percent approve of the job done by the Maryland General Assembly, while a third of residents disapprove and a fifth are unsure.
  • Nearly three-fourths believe legislative districts should be drawn by an independent commission, not by elected officials as it is now.
  • A growing number of residents think former Gov. Martin O'Malley should run for president, although a vast majority still believes he should not. In September, 19.2 percent of residents thought he should seek the White House in 2016. Now 30.7 percent believe he should.
  • Comptroller Peter Franchot's proposal to start school after Labor Day has support from 72 percent of the people surveyed.
  • Residents were divided on how Maryland should spend its transportation money. Fifty percent thought the state should focus on improving roads, while 45.1 percent thought the money should go to public transportation.
  • A bill pending in the state legislature to grant workers sick leave was very popular, with 74.6 percent backing the proposal.
  • The so-called "rain tax," which Hogan has sought to repeal, was unpopular with 61.5 percent of those surveyed. More than 40 percent said they "strongly opposed" it.
  • A majority of residents were split on whether to approve a "death with dignity" bill to let terminally ill patients take a doctor-prescribed drug to end their lives: 59.7 percent supported the measure, while 35.3 percent opposed it.

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