A new poll shows Maryland's race for governor will be a competitive contest, with popular Republican Gov. Larry Hogan failing to get 50 percent of the vote in any hypothetical matchup against Democratic challengers.
While Hogan enjoys high job approval and favorability ratings in a new nonpartisan poll from Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies, it is not enough to suggest he will sail into a second term, pollsters said.
"Despite these typically reliable indicators of an incumbent's political strength, Hogan's party affiliation makes his re-election far from certain," the company said in a statement.
The poll of 625 registered voters found more than 50 percent of the Democrats surveyed approved of Hogan, but fewer than a quarter said they would cast a vote for him.
Since registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in Maryland by a margin of more than 2-to-1, Hogan needs a fair number of Maryland voters to cross party lines in order to be re-elected next year.
The poll, which has a 4 percentage-point margin of error, found that Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III is the "strongest contender" right now in the field of seven Democrats.
In a hypothetical matchup between Hogan and Baker, Hogan would win by 7 percentage points, despite having a name recognition that is 35 percentage points higher than Baker's. Voters surveyed supported Hogan by 46 percentage points to Baker's 39 percentage points, with 5 percent undecided.
Although Hogan is ahead, pollsters noted he is below the 50 percent threshold generally considered "safe" for incumbents.
Hogan holds a wider lead in hypothetical matchups against Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz (13 points), former NAACP CEO Benjamin Jealous (16 points) or state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno (19 points). He held much larger leads over three less well-known candidates: author and entrepreneur Alec Ross, Baltimore lawyer Jim Shea, and former Obama administration official Krish Vignarajah.
The poll also broke down Hogan's approval ratings by region. Statewide, 61 percent of surveyed voters like the job he has done. His approval rating is lowest in Baltimore, where just 45 percent of city residents surveyed approve of the job he has done.