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Poll: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan more popular than predecessors, U.S. Senate race tightening

Gov. Larry Hogan is polling higher than either of his two predecessors ever did, according to a survey released Tuesday.

A poll by Gonzales Research & Marketing found Maryland's Republican governor is almost universally liked among his party's base, but he also has a 74 percent approval rating among independents, which is a growing swath of the electorate.

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Hogan's overall approval rating of 67 percent exceeds the firm's high-water mark of popularity for both former governors Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, and Robert L. Ehrlich, a Republican. O'Malley's most popular time, according to the periodic poll, came in January 2011 when 58 percent of those surveyed approved of the job he was doing. Ehrlich's came in August 2003, when his approval rating in the survey was 57 percentage points.

The survey also found the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski is tightening, with U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards cutting into what was once a double-digit lead by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen.

The survey found Van Hollen now has a 2-point edge over Edwards in Democratic Senate primary race, with a quarter of the electorate undecided. They're each winning on their home turf, though Van Hollen has more support in the Baltimore suburbs and and is polling twice as high statewide.

Edwards is polling twice as well as Van Hollen in Baltimore, where she has increased her campaigning.

Each campaign praised their candidate and criticized the other for spending a lot of money to get elected.

"We're pleased that Chris Van Hollen has maintained his lead, despite the million dollar blitz of Super PAC advertising. We're confident that voters are looking for his effective, progressive leadership that gets things done for Maryland families," said Bridgett Frey, spokeswoman for the Van Hollen campaign.

"Despite Congressman Van Hollen's $1.5 million ad campaign, Donna's momentum is growing because she's the only progressive champion who will expand Social Security, end gun violence, and tackle the tough issues that Washington politicians refuse to discuss," Edwards' campaign spokesman Benjamin F. Gerdes said.

The poll of 819 registered voters was conducted Jan. 11-16. The margin of error for Hogan's popularity is 3.5 percentage points, and it is 5 percentage points for the Democratic primary.

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