Poll: Trump so far is unable to find new support in Maryland

Trump has support from only 29 percent of Marylanders, Goucher Poll finds.

President Donald Trump has been unable to expand his base of support in Maryland and remains unpopular in a state that handed him one of his largest defeats last year, according to the first poll of state voters conducted since his inauguration.

Given the 2-to-1 voter registration advantage Democrats enjoy in Maryland, Trump was not likely to have made major gains here after only a month in office. But the poll suggests his effort to reach traditionally Democratic constituencies — city residents and African-Americans, for instance — have been overshadowed by early controversies.

Trump has support from 29 percent of Marylanders, compared with 64 percent who disapprove of the job he has done so far, according to the Goucher Poll to be released today. That is a worse margin than the Republican had in Maryland on Election Day, when he lost the state to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by 24 percentage points.

By contrast, Congress has support from only 21 percent of state voters.

"What's clear is that Trump still has appeal with his base, but what's hindering him — and it's crystal-clear in a state like Maryland — is that he has not been able to reach out and garner support from outside his core base," said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College. "Things really haven't changed."

The poll found support for Trump is divided largely along party lines. The president has approval from 71 percent of state Republicans but only 7 percent of Democrats. Independents were more divided, however, with 29 percent approving of his work so far and 56 percent disapproving.

The most significant question for Maryland is whether Trump's unpopularity here will play into the 2018 midterm elections — and Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's campaign for re-election, in particular. Hogan did not vote for Trump, but he has also declined to criticize some of the president's policies as forcefully as Democrats have said he should.

Maryland Republican Party Chairman Dirk Haire said he doesn't believe low support for Trump at this early stage in his presidency will affect Maryland's elections nearly two years from now. He also warned that it is probably too soon to judge the new president, who has yet to unveil any legislation for Congress to consider.

"With one-party control by the Republicans in Congress, we now have a chance to pass a budget, implement regulatory reform and [do] some other things that I think are going to move the needle positively on the economy," Haire said.

"If you take a look a year from now and President Trump and Republicans in Congress have the economy moving effectively ... I think President Trump's numbers could move in a positive direction," he said.

A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump occasionally appears to be making an effort to reach out to constituencies that did not support him on Election Day. He pledged to heal a "divided country" during a visit Tuesday to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. And he has repeatedly discussed his intention to crack down on violent crime in cities like Baltimore, though he has not yet offered specific proposals.

But the early days of his administration have been defined for many by the chaotic rollout of the travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries that was halted by a federal appeals court, as well as by the early resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

"I think he says things that people want to hear, but when it comes to actual details, I'm not sure I can believe what he says," said John Chapman, a 64-year-old Baltimore man who took part in the Goucher Poll.

"He has shown me in these 30 days that he is catering to his constituency," Chapman said.

Forty-five percent of all voters and 53 percent of Democrats said they approve of the job Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin is doing. Roughly one-third of all voters did not have an opinion on Cardin, who is up for reelection in 2018 and who has taken on a more high-profile role in Washington as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who won his election last fall for former Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski's seat by more than 25 percentage points, had similar support in the poll.

The Goucher Poll was conducted from Saturday through Tuesday, surveyed 776 Marylanders and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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