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Poll: Majority of Marylanders surveyed approve of Hogan’s response to the coronavirus pandemic

Gov. Larry Hogan salutes members of the Maryland National Guard on March 24, 2020, while visiting a meal distribution site at the Greenmount Recreation Center in Baltimore.
Gov. Larry Hogan salutes members of the Maryland National Guard on March 24, 2020, while visiting a meal distribution site at the Greenmount Recreation Center in Baltimore. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

The majority of Maryland residents approve of how Gov. Larry Hogan has handled the coronavirus outbreak in the state, according to a new poll.

The Goucher College Poll released Tuesday found that 82% of survey respondents approve of the way the Republican governor has taken on the pandemic, with half those saying they strongly approve of Hogan’s response.

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Hogan emerged as a national figure during the opening months of the public health crisis, earning early, bipartisan praise. He declared a state of emergency in Maryland more than a week before Republican President Donald Trump did the same for the country, and Hogan moved to shut down schools, senior centers and bars ahead of most other states. Hogan also advocated for aid for Maryland and other states in his role as head of the National Governors Association.

In the poll, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to approve of Hogan’s approach to the public health crisis, a dynamic likely connected to a partisan divide over how quickly and broadly to reopen the state’s economy. Nearly a third of Republicans believe the state loosened restrictions too slowly. Meanwhile, roughly a third of Democrats say Maryland is reopening too quickly.

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Overall, 58% of those surveyed believe the pace of easing restrictions and reopening businesses is “about right.” Nearly a quarter of residents think the state reopened too quickly, while 16% of people think the state has moved too slowly to reopen.

There have been problems in the state’s response: Thousands have struggled to secure state unemployment benefits, there have been questions about Hogan’s purchase of COVID-19 tests from South Korea, and local Democratic leaders have said he’s left them out of the loop on reopening decisions.

“Maryland’s Democratic elected officials seem certainly more frustrated with Hogan than rank-and-file Democrats,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College.

The survey of 1,002 Maryland adults was conducted using cellphone and landline numbers from Sept. 30 through Oct. 4. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

According to the poll, Marylanders are mostly united on the idea that wearing a mask and social distancing can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Eighty-nine percent agree such actions by individuals make a difference.

Kromer said it’s helpful that Hogan’s administration has embraced those precautions. Unlike some Republican leaders, Hogan has not used masks as a “political wedge," Kromer said, adding that she “wouldn’t be surprised if that led into some of his approval ratings.”

It helps too, she said, that Hogan went into this crisis with his approval ratings already strong. In a Goucher College Poll in February, conducted shortly before the country was upended by the pandemic, 62% of Marylanders said they approved of Hogan’s overall performance as governor.

Maryland has more than 131,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 3,800 confirmed deaths.

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